(Indianapolis, IN) – The Indiana Department of Education is seeking public comment on its request for a waiver on the number of students who can be tested using an alternate assessment on annual statewide Indiana Standards Tool for Alternate Reporting (ISTAR) tests.
Indiana requires all students enrolled in public K-12 schools (traditional and charters) and nonpublic schools (Choice Scholarship program, Accredited, and Freeway) be assessed either with accommodations, without accommodations or with an alternate assessment. The only exception to participation is for a student who receives a medical exemption for accountability purposes. Indiana follows the federal participation requirement and, to date, has met or exceeded the federal guidelines set at 95 percent participation.
For each subject for which assessments are administered, the total number of students assessed in that subject using an alternate assessment may not exceed 1% of the total number of students in the State who are assessed in that subject. If the State anticipates going above the 1% cap it must submit a waiver request to the federal government.
Indiana, based upon historical data, anticipates that approximately 1.4% students will be assessed using the alternate assessment. Since this exceeds the limit, Indiana must request a waiver to the 1% cap for one year (34 C.F.R. §200.6(c)(4)).
The IDOE plans to submit the waiver request to the U.S. Department of Education in the areas of English/Language Arts, mathematics, science and social studies. The waiver request states that IDOE will gather data on the characteristics of students participating in the alternate assessment to provide a standard for determining whether students are participating have significant cognitive disabilities, which is the only population of students who can take the alternate assessment. In addition, the waiver also states that IDOE will collect and analyze alternate assessment data and request justification from districts that exceed the one percent cap. The IDOE will address any disproportionality in the percentage of students taking the alternate assessment.