Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Indiana Education Department Seeks Waiver From Federal Test Standard

    The Indiana Department of Education wants to wait to test Hoosier students on a new federal school standard: speaking and listening.

    Indiana education officials will ask the U.S. Department of Education for a two-year waiver from the testing requirement. State officials say speaking and listening are already measured by current reading and language arts tests.

    “Well we’re going to continue to work towards including speaking and listening on the state assessment, but that’s something that is kind of in process,” said Samantha Hart, Indiana Department of Education spokesperson.

    So, where’s this new requirement come from? Last year, congress replaced the Bush-era education law, No Child Left Behind, with the a new law, the Every Student Succeeds Act. ESSA includes a new mandate to test student on speaking and listening on state tests, and it is set to take effect fall 2016.

    Education department spokesperson Hart says Indiana schools already measure student speaking and listening abilities, but it has never been a part of the statewide assessment.

    “ESSA was asking for it to be part of the summative assessment, to be part of our ISTEP assessment system, and to have students participate in a speaking and listening portion,” Hart said.

    The federal government did acknowledge that states might not be ready to test in all of the areas required by the new law.

    Earlier this year, U.S. Deaprtment of Education officials sent out a letter saying states could hold off on measuring student speaking and listening, if they met necessary requirements. The letter, sent by Senior Advisor Ann Whelan, acknowledges that measuring speaking and listening skills “may not be practicable at this time.”

    “A State could request a limited waiver of the requirement that its assessment system cover the full range of its academic content standards for speaking and listening, if the State has adopted those as part of its reading/language arts standards,” wrote Whalen.

    Now, Indiana is not alone it’s request for a waiver. Many states, including Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Alaska and Arkansas, requested waivers as well.



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