A higher percentage of Hoosier students – 71 percent – passed the ISTEP+ exam this year than ever before. But growth in passing rates slowed compared to previous years, and the Democratic candidate for state superintendent says she is concerned about how students are being taught.
Glenda Ritz, the Democratic candidate running against Superintendent Tony Bennett, says it is good that test scores improved, but she does not feel the gains were enough.
The Carmel schoolteacher says if education funding had not been cut so dramatically in recent years, educational growth might have been even better. She says she is worried that the slowdown in growth is also because Bennett’s policies force educators to teach to the test.
“He had less than a one percent growth this last year and I attribute that, in the classroom, teachers have less time for instruction because we are spending more of our time on assessments,” she says.
Ritz says continuing to raise the stakes on the ISTEP+ detracts from the value of the education Hoosier students receive. But Bennett says his accountability measures are working and that quality teachers are one of the most important ingredients for student learning.
“Good teaching teaches students to high expectations and Indiana standards,” he says. “And if that is done well, and students master that, the test validates that.”
Ritz says she would like to see more of an emphasis on the importance of reading across all subjects – and not through high-stakes assessments.