INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A state committee suggested Tuesday that shorter tests
be selected to replace Indiana's troubled ISTEP student exams without
specifying how to reach that goal.
educator-dominated panel voted 21-2 in favor of recommendations to state
legislators that include moving the testing period from its current March
and April times into a single timespan in May to help stem classroom
disruptions caused by the standardized exams now taken by more than
400,000 students a year.
The committee was
formed by the General Assembly after it voted earlier this year to mandate
that the ISTEP test be replaced for the 2017-18 school year — although it
is unlikely a new exam will be ready by then. Lawmakers are expected to
consider the testing revamp during their session that starts in January.
Committee Chairman Robert Behning, an Indianapolis Republican, said he
believed the state would ultimately end up with a different looking exam
but that the current test will probably be used for next school year.
"By pushing it
too quickly you're going to end up having problems," he said. "You're
better off doing it more deliberatively and making sure you have a quality
product in the end."
The ISTEP exams
have been plagued by long delays in results and growing time needed for
students to take the tests, prompting widespread complaints from parents
schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz voted against the panel's
recommendations and objected during Tuesday's meeting about not being
allowed to offer changes to the proposal. Committee chairwoman Nicole Fama,
a principal in the Indianapolis Public Schools district, described the
report as a consensus among the members.
Ritz, a Democrat
leaving office in January after losing her re-election bid, said the
proposals represented a status quo on testing.
recommendations adopted today will do nothing to shorten the time of the
test and will not save Hoosiers any money nor reduce the high-stakes
associated with ISTEP," Ritz said.
recommendations from the panel include calling for testing companies to
provide results within a month of the tests and giving local school
districts more control over how student test scores will be considered in
teacher evaluations. Students in grades 3-8 would face math and language
arts exams each year, while fourth- and sixth-graders would also take a
Wendy Robinson, who is superintendent of the Fort Wayne Community Schools,
said she hoped legislators realize that a single exam can't be used to
determine the progress of students and also evaluate the performance of
teachers and schools.
"Every expert who
testified told us we were using ISTEP for too many things, that no one
test can do four or five different things," she said.