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Marion County school leaders ask state to cancel ILEARN for 2021

Indiana Senate approves bill making 'ILEARN' new state test
Posted at 1:38 PM, Feb 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-10 17:22:44-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Leaders at Marion County schools are asking the state of Indiana to cancel testing requirements for 2021 and hold districts harmless for the year.

Superintendents from school districts across the county sent a letter to Indiana Secretary of Education Katie Jenner Wednesday, saying the burden from COVID-19 is already too much for students. The superintendents say testing takes about 20 days out of the year, and teachers need the instructional time back.

“The 20 instructional day testing window takes precious instruction time away to address the COVID-19 learning loss,” the letter states.

They also say students undergoing COVID-19 quarantining would unfairly penalize the schools.

“Families should not have to choose between their personal health concerns and state testing,” they said. “Parents are indicating that they will not send their students to schools in order to test. We cannot force families to send their children to take the test in-person, and again, accountability measures would penalize schools when this happens.”

The letter was signed by the following Marion County school leaders and teacher association presidents:

  • Paul Kaiser, Beech Grove City Schools, Ms. Gina Herman, BGEA
  • Bruce Hibbard, Franklin Township Community Schools & Ms. Cathy Smith, FTEA
  • Matthew Prusiecki, MSD of Decatur Township & Ms. Ann Kuper/Matt Timmons, DEA
  • Shawn A. Smith, MSD of Lawrence Township & Mr. Justin Brown, LEA
  • Flora Reichanadter, MSD of Pike Township & Mr. Chris Ludy, PCTA
  • Timothy Hanson, MSD of Warren Township & Ms. Jenny Whitaker, WEA
  • Nikki Woodson, MSD of Washington Township & Mrs. Sabra Gage, WTEA
  • Jeff Butts, MSD of Wayne Township & Ms. Kim Arnold, WTCTA
  • Kyle Trebley, School Town of Speedway & Mr. Geoff Mahan, SCTA

A representative of the Indiana Department of Education referred to this document about administering tests.

The representative also said:

Measuring student learning and progress is fundamental to ensuring student success – especially during the pandemic — and assessments serve as one important component in our overall effort. In particular, we know Indiana’s low-income students, as well as our black and brown students, have been disproportionately impacted in multiple ways by the pandemic, and getting a snapshot of their progress will help us better tailor resources for those students.Once we have the Spring 2021 assessment results, IDOE will study these results, looking at topics like: which state standards show significant learning loss; what differences in performance and growth exist between student groups; what learning gaps are present in foundational skills; and conclusions or recommendations that can be made to address student learning loss.

IDOE recognizes the concerns and complexities with administering federally-required, on-site assessments. That’s why we’ve provided guidance to schools. If a student cannot participate in the assessment for health reasons (example – COVID-19 quarantine, health issue, homebound, etc.), then the school can document this information and report it back to IDOE.

IDOE has requested a federal waiver for calculating accountability determinations, and is collaborating with state legislators to ensure schools are held harmless for the test results by issuing a null grade for the current school year. IDOE is also working with the state policymakers for guidance in flexibility in graduation requirements, making sure that students also don’t face consequences due to the pandemic.

IDOE will continue to work with federal and state partners to ensure assessment data is used for informational purposes only and will share any additional guidance with educational leaders as it becomes available.