The Education Roundtable on Monday recommended major changes to next year’s ISTEP+ exam as part of a plan to maintain the state’s No Child Left Behind waiver, as well as major changes to a brand new test starting in 2015-2016.
Before the federal government can renew the waiver flexibility, the Indiana Department of Education needs to provide an assessment plan proving the state will test students around the state’s newly adopted academic standards.
The IDOE has until June 30 to submit those plans.
The IDOE is already soliciting vendors for a brand new test beginning the 2015-2016 school year, but the state still has to provide a test aligned with the new academic standards to students this coming spring.
So an updated version of the ISTEP+ will serve that purpose, and the Roundtable’s recommendation allows the state’s current vendor CTB/McGraw-Hill to make necessary changes to the test.
The test will look a little different than previous tests, with a mix of multiple choice and open ended questions, as well as “technology-enhanced items,” such as questions that would incorporate photos and video.
Sample questions for this test will be available to students and teachers by August or September for viewing to get acquainted with the new format.
Starting in the 2015-2016 school year, though, a brand new test created by a potentially new vendor will debut, and the roundtable made recommendations significantly different from current testing practices.
One major suggestion is adding ninth graders into the assessment group, which currently consists of third through eighth graders, to measure student growth into high school. Expanding the standardized test through ninth and tenth grade would allow the state to phase out End of Course Assessments, currently used to test students finishing Biology 1, Algebra 1 or Algebra.
Governor Mike Pence, who chairs the Education Roundtable, said continuing to measure student growth into high school is an attempt to reduce the number of students needing remediation once they get to college.
“A diploma from our high schools should signal our students are ready for career or college,” Pence said.
While the Indiana Department of Education must submit by the end of the month its plan to meet the basic NCLB waiver requirements, it can fine tune the details, which could include some of the roundtable’s suggestions, at a later date.
State Board of Education will consider the recommendations at its meeting on July 9.