June 4, 2014

 

The State Board of Education met today for an update on Indiana’s NCLB waiver status. Superintendent Ritz announced that federal education officials advised her that Indiana would be required to enact a new statewide ISTEP test for the upcoming 2014-15 school year. Otherwise, the state faces losing its waiver status and the control of the funding that comes with the waiver.

 

As Scott Elliott writes over at Chalkbeat: 

 

Indiana would not be in this situation except for two actions, one taken by Gov. Mike Pence and the other by the state legislature.

 

Under former Gov. Mitch Daniels and Ritz’s predecessor, Tony Bennett, the state adopted Common Core standards and joined the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC.

....Pence said he had reservations about Common Core and that summer he ordered Indiana’s withdrawal from PARCC.

In March, the Indiana legislature passed a bill voiding Indiana’s adoption of Common Core and ordering new standards be put in place for 2014-15.

 

This ultimatum essentially gives Indiana 2 months to develop and implement a new statewide ISTEP test.

 

This leaves us with many questions.

 

What sort of quality product can we expect from the eventual test developer which would be created under such a short deadline? We have seen the negative effects that a flawed test and testing infrastructure can have on our schools. Look no further than McGraw-Hill’s testing failures the past 2 years.

 

How will teachers and students adapt and prepare for a radically new test in such a short amount of time? Many schools will be starting the 2014-15 school year in early August. School districts will need ample time in order to coordinate professional development time for its teachers so that students can successfully take the exam.

 

All of these questions lead us to believe that the state board should not allow high stakes consequences to befall students, teachers and schools during this initial baseline year when we are implementing both new standards and new istep assessments. Common sense and data tell us that under normal circumstances, implementing a new statewide standardized test takes some adjusting, and therefore lower than normal test scores are to be expected. Labeling a school A-F and evaluating teachers based on the initial year's baseline score is unfair.

 

The state board is to have a special meeting later this month to again address the NCLB waiver.