For immediate release:
Jan. 19, 2016
INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana House Republicans today resoundingly rejected a call from State Rep. Clyde Kersey (D-Terre Haute) for lawmakers to study whether the failed ISTEP program should be replaced by another test to gauge the progress that Hoosier schoolchildren are making in the classroom.
The House supermajority voted down a proposal authored by Kersey that would have established an interim study committee to look at finding a new test to replace ISTEP, which has been plagued by errors since its inception. Kersey attempted to place his proposal into Senate Bill 200, which would hold most schools harmless from last year’s drop in ISTEP scores.
“The fact that we are even considering SB 200 should indicate the need to study whether we need to keep ISTEP around,” said Kersey, who has authored another measure (House Bill 1114) that would replace ISTEP with a new type of test called the Indiana Student Achievement Testing (ISAT) program that would be created by trained education professionals in the state Department of Education.
“If given my druthers, I’d rather we ditch ISTEP completely and go with something along the lines that is contained by my HB 1114,” he continued. “However, that appears to be too radical a step for those who thrive on testing as the be-all and end-all of our educational system.
“My amendment called for us to study the role of the ISTEP test in the education of our children,” Kersey said. “It would have given us the chance to bring in teachers, educators, principals, administrators, and college professors to examine the effectiveness of the test and make recommendations for where we need to go.”
SB 200 and a companion measure (House Bill 1003, which would prevent ISTEP scores and A-to-F accountability grades from being used to evaluate the performances of teachers across Indiana) have been placed on the fast track for passage this legislative session. Both have been advanced in order to blunt the impact of recent ISTEP mistakes, which have included lengthy delays in tabulating and getting out the results.
“Even the most zealous supporters for testing have come to realize the flaws in the present system,” Kersey said. “If we cannot eliminate this system and start over, we must at least begin to lay the groundwork that compels us to a logical conclusion that ISTEP has got to go. I am disappointed that my colleagues in the House Republican caucus were not willing to take those steps that so many want to see.”