NewsEducation / December 2, 2015

New Technical Committee Will Advise State Leaders On Tests

State leaders say they recognize the difficulties presented by changing standardized tests, and that they are taking the necessary steps to help make the transition go more smoothly.Indiana Department of Education, State Board of Education, ISTEP+2015-12-02T00:00:00-05:00
New Technical Committee Will Advise State Leaders On Tests

State Superintendent Glenda Ritz and fellow State Board of Education member Byron Ernest listen during December's meeting.

Rachel Morello/StateImpact Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS -- State leaders say they recognize the difficulties presented by changing standardized tests, and that they are taking the necessary steps to help make the transition go more smoothly.

During their monthly meeting Wednesday, the State Board of Education voted to begin the process of establishing an independent committee to advise on technical aspects of statewide assessments.

The group would consist of four to six members with specific expertise in various technical areas. They would provide counsel to the State Board and Department of Education on things such as test design, growth models, and assessment of special populations (i.e. English language learners and students receiving special education).

This comes after months of frustration over the current version of Indiana’s statewide ISTEP+ test. Not only did multiple districts experience technical problems taking the exam last spring, but lawmakers scrambled to cut time from the lengthy test during administration, and grading issues plaguing test vendor CTB have caused setbacks for releasing 2014-15 scores.

As Chelsea Schneider reports for the Indianapolis Star, many school leaders have penned newspaper editorials and parent letters to convey their feelings to local communities:


In Marion County, one school leader described sending a letter to parents as a “very unusual” step for him to take.

But Thomas Little, superintendent of Perry Township Schools, said the 2014-15 ISTEP marks “unusual times” in public education.

“The test results of your child must be reviewed in light of the current testing controversies. In the final analysis, the success of your child in life will not be determined by a series of tests,” Little goes on to write. “If you truly want to know the level of achievement of your child, ask the person who knows best, your child’s teacher.”

The complications have spurred the General Assembly into action. Following Gov. Mike Pence‘s direction, lawmakers look poised to take immediate action at the start of the legislative session to decouple what are anticipated to be much lower test scores from districts’ teacher evaluations.

It is unclear whether the legislature will make any changes to the states A-F school accountability system. Because Indiana is in its first year of transition to new academic standards and a matching assessment, state Superintendent Glenda Ritz has long advocated for the practice of holding schools harmless for one year.

Schools can expect to receive final ISTEP+ data later this month.

 

 

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