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ISTEP panel recommends changes to standardized test

Posted at 1:44 PM, Nov 29, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS -- The 23-member ISTEP panel met for the final time Tuesday, recommending that Indiana implements a "proven and reliable" test, rather than create a brand new one.

The results of the recommended test would be back to the schools in one month, ideally. It would also be up to the individual districts to determine how to factor the tests into teachers' evaluations.

Rep. Robert Behning (R), a member of the panel, said the general assembly will have a roadmap to figure out how to move forward.

"I think it has definitely helped create a starting place and a very clear definition as to where people want to go with it," Behning said.

Behning is also the chairman of the House Committee on Education -- the group likely to steer the discussion at the statehouse.

Another of the panel's recommendations is to give the assessment at the end of the year, a different timeframe from what's in place.

Superintendent of Public Education Glenda Ritz is one of two members who voted against the recommendations, arguing they don't take advantage of flexibility to design a test.

In a statement, Ritz said, in part:

“Simply put, continuing the status quo when it comes to testing will continue Indiana’s reliance on teaching to the test, rather than focusing on student learning and growth. 

The Department of Education received over 7,000 survey responses from throughout Indiana regarding our assessment system.  Overwhelmingly, these comments said that Indiana needed to shorten this test, reduce the stress on our children and high stakes associated with ISTEP and eliminate the unnecessary IREAD-3 test.  This report ignores the feedback of thousands of Hoosiers."

Behning said it's likely students will have to take the ISTEP for at least two years while the Department of Education puts together a new test.