Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

ISTEP+ Panel Explores Options For New High School Standardized Test


    Karla Egan, a testing expert, speaks to the panel making recommendations for the update to the state’s new assessment system. (photo credit: Claire McInerny/Indiana Public Broadcasting)

    INDIANAPOLIS — High school students in Indiana schools will soon face a new standardized test, but it’s exact characteristics are still undetermined.

    This new version of the high school test was the focal point during Tuesday’s meeting by the panel that will recommend how to replace the state’s current assessment, known as ISTEP+.

    Federal law says schools must test students at least once in high school. In Indiana that currently happens in 10th grade.

    Until recently, 10th grade students were tested at the end of English 10 and Algebra I with tests developed specifically for those classes. During the 2015-16 school year, students instead took a 10th grade version of the ISTEP+.

    A state law passed earlier this year, killed the ISTEP+ in its current form. Tuesday’s discussion surrounded what alternative options schools would have going forward.

    Blackford County Schools superintendent Scot Croner, proposed the idea of creating a personal system for each student to determine if they’re ready to graduate.

    “What I would advocate is at the onset of a student’s high school career, they would sit down, meet with the guidance counselor and the parents with the educators in the room and they would develop a four year plan for that student,” Croner said. “And a part of that component is they would make a determination what graduation assessment best fits that student’s particular needs.”

    Croner said he recognizes that not every district has the capacity provide such a service. Still, he said he wants to start with the perfect scenario and scale back from there.

    Croner also advocated the panel recommend using the SAT or ACT as the high school test component, rather than creating a separate 10th grade version of ISTEP+.

    But Karla Egan, who works at EdMetric LLC and is chairperson of the Indiana Technical Advisory Committee, advised against this. She’s a nationally recognized expert in state-level assessment and standard setting.

    “For the purposes of a [graduation qualifying exam] and measuring your standards, I don’t know if it’s the best fit,” Egan said.

    Egan explained the ACT and SAT were designed to help colleges determine whether a student is ready to enter a university, not to determine whether they are ready to leave high school.

    The legislation that created the ISTEP+ panel requires the group to submit recommendations to the legislature by Dec. 1.

    At September’s meeting the panel plans to begin discussions on how to change the test for students in grades three through eight, another state and federal requirement.



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