Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Legislature Moves Forward With Bills To Give Schools ISTEP Relief

    The legislature moved forward with two bills Wednesday that would curb negative consequences of this year's lower ISTEP+ scores for teachers and schools

    The legislature moved forward with two bills Wednesday that would curb negative consequences of this year’s lower ISTEP+ scores for teachers and schools. (photo credit: Claire McInerny/StateImpact Indiana)

    The two education bills legislators promised to fast track this session moved out of committee Wednesday, getting closer to ensuring teachers and schools will not be punished for lower ISTEP+ scores.

    One bill, passed unanimously by the House Education Committee, would prohibit this year’s ISTEP+ scores from being calculated into a teacher’s evaluation if it makes the evaluation worse. The scores must be used though if the scores would boost a teacher’s evaluation.

    This bill was drafted and amended by Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis, along with the Department of Education. Behning says they also vetted it through the teacher’s unions to make sure it is in line with their goals.

    “We know this is a short session and things need to be done quickly,” said John Barnes, Director of Legislative Affairs for the DOE. “We’re satisfied with this language.”


    With the committee passing the bill it will now move to the full House floor and is expected to be passed by both chambers in the coming weeks.

    The Senate took up the other bill addressing consequences from ISTEP+ scores, which would alter the A-F system for one year to avoid a large portions of schools and school districts from being considered ‘poor performing’.

    The Senate passed the bill 10-1 it will now leave committee and go to the full Senate.

    Under this bill, the state will still calculate A-F grades using this year’s lower ISTEP+ scores, but if the grade for the 2014-2015 school year is lower than its grade from 2013-2014 school year, the old grade will stay in place. If it’s higher, the higher score will be used.

    Before the Senate committee voted on the bill, state superintendent Glenda Ritz spoke to the group about why passing this bill is necessary this year, because she said these scores don’t reflect student learning or teacher effectiveness.

    “They reflect this change in standards and a new testing system,” said Ritz.

    The lower test scores are the result of the first year the ISTEP+ matched new state standards.

    Legislators have said they hope both bills will be signed into law by the governor before January.



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