The State Board of Education will consider a resolution proposed by the Department of Education that would suspend accountability for schools and teachers tied to results from the spring ISTEP+ exam. The board convenes Friday for a special meeting to address the length of this year’s test, which sparked outrage from educators and parents when the news became public last week.
In an effort to address these concerns, Governor Mike Pence signed an executive order Monday hiring a national testing consultant to recommend ways to shorten the test to the IDOE and SBOE. But the testing window for the ISTEP+ begins Feb. 25, giving the consultant, the IDOE and CTB McGraw-Hill a tight deadline to make any changes to the test.
The SBOE meeting Friday will focus only on this issue, and the resolution put forward by the IDOE attempts to address the concerns of parents and educators in a different way than the governor’s attempt to shorten the test.
The resolution asks the board to vote on the following changes to the state’s testing procedures:
- Request that the General Assembly allow the IDOE and SBOE to suspend A-F grades for the 2014-2015 school year (which are based partially on ISTEP+ grades),
- Ask the General Assembly to pause interventions for failing schools “due to a sixth consecutive year of placement in the lowest category or designation of school performance resulting from the hold in school categories and designations for the 2014-2015 school year,”
- Ask the General Assembly to remove social studies portions of the 2015 ISTEP+ for fifth and seventh graders,
- Ask the General Assembly to approve the decision not to administer the IREAD-3 test this year, to reduce the amount of testing for third graders, and
- Not incorporate ISTEP+ scores into teacher evaluations.
If the SBOE approves the resolution and the General Assembly votes to suspend accountability, schools would retain their current A-F grade for one more year.
In a letter to the SBOE, Senate President Pro Tempore David Long, R-Fort Wayne, expressed concerns about these suggestions.
“It would set back, and put at risk, the systems of improvement for our schools and children that we have all worked so hard to implement,” Long wrote.
State board member Brad Oliver also expressed concerns on Facebook, saying he is “disappointed there is no item to address the length of ISTEP+ and only a resolution to suspend accountability.”
The board meets Friday at 9 a.m.