Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Tomorrow We’ll Have An ISTEP Recommendation, What Can We Expect?

Gov. Mike Pence and House Speaker Brian Bosma separately announced appointments to the panel that will recommend a replacement for Indiana’s current standardized test, the Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress-Plus or ISTEP. (David Hartman /Flickr)

The ISTEP panel will issue its final recommendation on how to re-write the state assessment. (photo credit: David Hartman /Flickr)

Tuesday is the last state ISTEP panel meeting, and members are expected to vote on a plan to overhaul the state’s assessment system. The group will submit this plan to the legislature as a recommendation.

During the 2016 General Assembly, lawmakers voted to get rid of the current ISTEP+ assessment. The legislation also created the 23-person panel – educators, parents, legislators and other stakeholders – to come up with a recommendation for its replacement.

That panel met every month, since May, to craft a recommendation before a Dec. 1 deadline. Though Nov. 29’s meeting is the last, it’s not quite clear what we can expect from the recommendation.

When the group convened earlier in the month, members brought different ideas and plans for what the test could look like. It reviewed them at the meeting but no decisions were made.  Chair and Indianapolis Public Schools principal Nicole Fama decided to have those conversations via email. Tomorrow we’ll have our first look at the products of those conversations.

What we have seen so far

One of the first plans came from state superintendent Glenda Ritz and the Department of Education, in October. Highlights include eliminating IREAD-3, enacting computer adaptive tests and the possibility for multiple administrations throughout the year.

A few weeks ago, a group of eight panel members created their own proposal and presented it for consideration. Some of their suggestions:

  • State will provide funds for a formative assessment of the school district’s choosing (a test, like NWEA, schools can use to gauge if students are on track).
  • Only one administration of the summative assessment (like ISTEP). Right now students take it in two sittings.
  • Eliminate IREAD-3.
  • Three end-of-course exams at the high school level.

Different perspectives

At the last meeting, the group also reviewed various pieces of feedback from panel members regarding the test. Suggestions included reducing testing time, cutting IREAD and reducing the social studies and science portions of any assessment.

But there were a few things the entire group wasn’t on board with. Experts suggest online testing is the best way to administer a test, but some on the panel still want to administer a test with paper and pencil. The group also differs on how often there should be testing. Some want to streamline it into one time a year, others want to spread it throughout the year, administering it in shorter chunks.

After the recommendation

The final recommendation will be given to the 2017 General Assembly. It does not mandate anything. The legislature will craft legislation that establishes the new assessment.



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