INDIANAPOLIS – After months of inaction by the ISTEP Replacement Panel, Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz outlined her preferred approach for a student-centered assessment system today. This comprehensive initiative takes advantage of federal flexibility under the Every Student Succeeds Act and both reduces testing time and cost while increasing transparency and fairness.
“Like Hoosiers across the state, I am frustrated by the lack of progress being made by the ISTEP Replacement Panel,” said Ritz. “Families and educators have made it clear that they want to get rid of the punitive, pass/fail ISTEP test. That is why I am outlining a student-centered initiative to meet the unique needs and education levels of each individual student. Under this approach, families, educators, and students will finally have access to reliable data on how a student is performing as well as how they have grown during a school year.”
If implemented, this initiative would reduce overall testing time by an estimated eight hours, allowing more time for teachers to teach and students to learn. This can be accomplished by cutting those tests that are not federally required, as well as reducing testing redundancies. Additionally, this system could save Hoosier taxpayers more than $12 million annually, sending more money back into the classroom to support student learning.
Superintendent Ritz’s approach embraces new flexibility offered under the Every Student Succeeds Act, including the utilization of 21st century computer adaptive technology to individualize student assessments while still measuring student performance on grade level. This approach will provide educators and families with quick feedback and allow them to track a student’s progress toward college and career readiness while identifying areas where a student is performing on, above or below grade level standards. This data will enable schools to provide individualized support to students on an ongoing basis throughout a school year.
Under House Enrolled Act 1395, the General Assembly charged the members of the Panel to Study Alternatives to the ISTEP Program Tests with developing a recommendation for an assessment to replace ISTEP while also considering six items, including the feasibility of using existing tests or test components, reducing testing time and cost, increasing transparency and fairness, meeting the requirements of the Every Student Succeeds Act and the impact of testing on teacher evaluations. While no meaningful discussion has yet taken place on these topics, Superintendent Ritz is considering these six areas of concern within her student-centered assessment proposal.
In addition to outlining her policy initiative, Superintendent Ritz recently directed the Indiana Department of Education to submit a Request for Information from assessment vendors. This information will provide the Department with information on what assessment products may be available for use in Indiana. More specific details on Superintendent Ritz’s approach will be released after gathering information from this Request for Information as well as input from education stakeholders.