August 22, 2014

 

Yesterday, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced that the USDOE will allow flexibility in tying high-stakes testing results to teacher evaluations and student promotions. We now call on Governor Pence to reverse his decision to oppose suspending consequences of Indiana’s accountability standards, considering his argument was entirely based on appeasing the USDOE.

 

As you know, Indiana dropped Common Core standards and adopted new academic standards to be implemented this school year. A new statewide high-stakes standardized test to be administered this year is still being developed. 

 

It was announced in June that the USDOE would require Indiana to enact a new statewide ISTEP test or else it faces losing its No Child Left Behind waiver.

 

With Indiana’s students and teachers being put under such pressure to adapt and prepare for a radically new test under unprecedented time constraints, many worried about the consequences. 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. Virtually all legitimate groups (nationally- and state-based) agree that the dynamics derived from the new standards and new test will initially cause upheaval in terms of results—making it patently unfair to hold teachers and schools to these new consequences.  And now, it would appear as though the US DOE “gets it.”

 

Labeling schools and evaluating teachers based on new baseline scores would be unfair.

 

With this in mind Superintendent Ritz, as well as ISTA, recommended that Indiana pause accountability standards.

 

However, Governor Pence released a letter sent to U.S. Secretary Duncan stating in order to comply with its NCLB waiver, Indiana will not pause accountability standards:

 

Now as of yesterday, Secretary Duncan has said that delaying the use of high-stakes test results will not jeopardize a state’s NCLB waiver so long as “data collection continues”.

 

In a blog post about his announcement, Duncan stated:

 

There are three main issues I’ve heard about repeatedly from educators:

 

  1. It doesn’t make sense to hold them accountable during this transition year for results on the new assessments – a test many of them have not seen before – and as many are coming up to speed with new standards
  2. The standardized tests they have today focus too much on basic skills, not enough on critical thinking and deeper learning.
  3. Testing – and test preparation – takes up too much time.

I share these concerns. And I want our department to be part of the solution.

With this newfound ‘permission’ from the feds, we call on Governor Pence to reverse his earlier decision about how this all will be implemented not only for the benefit of our students, community public schools and educators—but in support of common sense governing.

 

 

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