Indiana schools, teachers could get a pass for lower ILEARN scores

Indiana Senate approves bill making 'ILEARN' new state test
Posted at 10:40 AM, Aug 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-27 18:41:15-04

INDIANAPOLIS — With a decrease in scores expected from the ISTEP+ test to the new ILEARN proficiency test, Gov. Eric Holcomb requested Monday that teachers and schools not be accountable for the lower results.

Holcomb is requesting the Indiana General Assembly act to hold schools harmless for the new scores to “ease the transition” to ILEARN.

"Since this is the first year of the ILEARN assessment, I will ask Superintendent McCormick to support my request that the General Assembly take action to hold schools harmless so the test scores do not have an adverse impact on teacher evaluations and schools’ letter grades for the 2018-19 school year," Holcomb said Monday, via a statement.

The ILEARN (Indiana Learning Evaluation Assessment Readiness Network) assesses Indiana students in their proficiencies in the following:

  • English/Language Arts (ELA) (Grades 3-8)
  • Mathematics (Grades 3-8)
  • Science (Grades 4 and 6)
  • Social Studies (Grade 5)
  • Biology (High School)
  • U.S. Government – Optional (High School)

The leaders of both the Indiana House and Senate seem responsive to Holcomb's request.

“I agree with Governor Holcomb’s call to hold harmless our hard-working teachers and schools during this critical transition year,” House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said. “We will work closely with our House and Senate colleagues, and the governor to continue supporting Hoosier students, teachers and schools.”

“I believe in our teachers and schools and know they are working hard to benefit our kids,” Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray, R-Martinsville, said. “As such, I’m in favor of delaying the impact of the ILEARN scores for a year as schools and teachers continue to adjust to this new exam.”

Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick released a statement, saying the IDOE is "proposing legislative action addressing the negative impact on educators, schools, districts, and communities." The ILEARN scores will be publicly released on Sept. 4.

"Over the past two weeks, districts and schools received embargoed ILEARN scores," McCormick said. "When compared to past ISTEP+ scores, the scores for Indiana’s new assessment, ILEARN, indicated lower achievement levels across the state in both English/language arts and mathematics. The combination of the rigors associated with this newly aligned college and career readiness assessment, national normative data, and the defined established performance cuts all contributed to the lower performance levels. While frustrating, performance dips at some level were expected, as previously experienced in 2014-2015 with the onset of the then newly implemented ISTEP+."

The legislature did something similar in 2016, when the 2015 ISTEP+ scores showed drops across the board.

“I appreciate the dedicated work of Hoosier educators,” Holcomb said. “Bringing consistency and continuity to how we measure student progress and preparing students for post-secondary success is a shared and important goal.”