Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Feds Require New Standardized Test To Keep NCLB Waiver

Ritz announced a new, more rigorous assessment will debut this spring, surprising many State Board of Education members.

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

Ritz announced a new, more rigorous assessment will debut this spring, surprising many State Board of Education members.

Indiana students must take an assessment that tests their knowledge of the new state standards next spring if the state wants to keep its No Child Left Behind waiver, state superintendent Glenda Ritz told the State Board of Education on Wednesday.

Ritz said after phone calls with the U.S. Department of Education regarding getting the state in compliance to extend its No Child Left Behind waiver, U.S. Department of Education officials said a spring test in 2015 must be fully operational in order for the state to keep the waiver.

Last month the state received a letter from the U.S. Department of Education putting a condition on its waiver from No Child Left Behind requirements. The waiver allows the state to have flexibility with millions of dollars of federal money.

The news of the testing requirement came as a surprise to many board members. The state is transitioning away from Common Core standards to new Indiana State Standards, and the previous plan was to give the current ISTEP test along with another test that would be specific to the new standards, to try it out as a pilot. 

Ritz said the new assessment will be much more rigorous than the current ISTEP, getting rid of multiple choice questions and instead having students show their answers.

Because the new assessment will be the sole way of testing students next year, Ritz says she doesn’t expect the scores to be good.

“It is most likely that when you have a new assessment and keep in mind, we are going to go to a very rigorous assessment,” Ritz said. “It is expected that we will see a lessening in student performance so that does have an impact on teacher evaluation as well as accountability.”

This expected drop in scores led Ritz to also recommend the board suspend the consequences of school accountability grades (A-F scores) and teacher evaluations, which the test scores factor into.

She said the state would still provide the scores to parents and students, but schools that received F’s, for example, would potentially be at no higher risk for a state takeover, and teachers’ salaries would not be affected by low pass rates.

Board member Brad Oliver questioned the legality of not counting A-F scores, particularly toward whether a school gets put in a Focus area or into state takeover. That’s a question that is unanswered right now, since assessment scores are legally required to be a part of both teacher evaluations and school accountability scores.

“We haven’t made any decisions regarding that,” Ritz said. “We are simply starting the conversation, we have to have lots of conversations obviously.”

But those conversations need to happen before June 30 when the state will submit its plan for complying with the waiver to the U.S. Department of Education.


  • Teacher

    Totally unbelievable

  • Frank Rizzo

    Now would be a good time for the governor to tell the feds exactly where to shove it.

  • indyscott

    Abolish the Federal Department of Education!!!

  • fred cheney

    “More rigorous”sounds good if you say it fast. If Indiana wants rigor they should stay with the CCSS.

  • Terry Daugherty

    So let me get this straight, the Federal Government can not legally tell our state to use the CCSS test, but if we don’t they will penalize us.

    • Jorfer88

      They’re only requiring Indiana to test on their new standards rather than their old ones but by next year. Since Indiana decided to waste so much time debating something they already approved in 2010, now Indiana doesn’t have a test ready to test students on the standards for this next year. Not saying that the feds aren’t punishing or exerting too much influence over Indiana exiting the Common Core, but Indiana is partially responsible for digging its own whole here and limiting its options. Indiana lawmakers decided to be confrontational and put Indiana in a position to be in a showdown with the feds and they got one but they are not brave enough to go all the way and take the position of rejecting federal money altogether.

  • Maria Hanby

    Blueprint for a Literate Nation How You Can Help [Kindle Edition]
    Cinthia Coletti

  • Maria Hanby

    The states want to take the money using waivers, but they do not want to do what they promised they would when they signed for the money? Why not? Oh, I know… they couldn’t meet NCLB and CommonCore is based upon the ability to read and write and do math problems with some level of proficiency at grade level even sooner now. Oh ya, that was the original agreement, but now that time is up, they don’t want to follow through with their side of the agreement…. funny how that works, eh?

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