Legislation that would replace the ISTEP exam with a new assessment in Spring 2019 got its first debate Tuesday at the Statehouse but it’s unclear what the new exam will be.
House Bill 1003 makes a lot of requirements for Indiana’s next assessment for students in 3-8 grades and 10th grade.
The test needs to be reliable, graded in part by Indiana teachers, and scores returned quickly. Lawmakers also want it to be inexpensive — or at least less than state’s current two-year $38 million ISTEP contract.
But during a hearing Tuesday Indianapolis Democrat Rep. Ed Delaney said the legislation is too focused on creating a test totally unique to Indiana.
He mocked other lawmakers for their fear of Common Core — the academic standards that Indiana adopted in 2010 and then voided in 2014, as ordered by former Gov. Mike Pence, as part of a nation-wide conservative backlash. A hastily created set of unique Indiana standards were written to replace it.
That change has made it more difficult for Indiana to use a so-called “off-the-shelf” exam that would be far less expensive than the current test administered by British-owned Pearson.
“I think we are wasting our time and money and our kids come out confused and not comparable to kids in other states,” Delaney said. “I do not see the value in that.”
Testing expert Ed Roeber testified Tuesday that Indiana does need somewhat of a specially designed exam since the academic standards are unlike other states. He estimated an “off-the-shelf” end-of-year assessment such as PARCC would only cover up to 65 percent of Indiana’s math and English standards.
Though last fall, another expert said PARCC could be used in Indiana.
Roeber, also on Tuesday, said the bill’s proposal for test results to be returned by July 1 seemed unlikely if it is administered at the end of the school year.
During the Tuesday hearing many educators, workforce development representatives and other education officials voiced their support of the legislation’s main intent — to end replace ISTEP starting in the 2018-19 school year.
The bill calls for a new statewide assessment program named ILEARN — Indiana’s Learning Evaluation Assessment Readiness Network. The State Board of Education would be responsible for overseeing the design or purchase of the new exam.
Many of the ideas about designing ILEARN were recommended by a panel convened by lawmakers to offer suggestion.
Legislation author Bob Bhening, R-Indianapolis, said multiple amendments would be filed for Thursday’s House Education Committee hearing. A vote could be taken then.