Shortening ISTEP is better for students, says key education policy legislator

February 23, 2015 Vernon G. Smith

For immediate release:
Feb. 23, 2015


INDIANAPOLIS – Legislation shortening the ISTEP exam from 12 hours down to 9 hours was passed today by members of the Indiana House of Representatives. State Rep. Vernon G. Smith (D-Gary) co-sponsored the bill, which first gained approval from the Indiana Senate.

Senate Bill 62 grants the Indiana Department of Education (DOE) the authority to alter portions of the ISTEP exam. Schools will not be required to administer the social studies test to 5th and 7th graders. Eliminating this section will cut ninety-five minutes of test time.

“The Legislature is working to shorten ISTEP after the concerned outcry from administrators, teachers, and parents,” said Smith. “Indiana chose not to go with the Common Core ISTEP. Instead, the state decided to create its own version of the test, which resulted in a considerably lengthier exam.”

Fewer pilot questions will be included in the 2015 ISTEP, which are used to generate the 2016 ISTEP. Schools have been instructed by the DOE to administer half of the sections contained in the first part of the math and English/language arts assessments. SB 62 preserves parents’ rights to inspect ISTEP questions as long as the exam’s validity is not compromised.

“ISTEP’s testing date is quickly approaching,” noted Smith. “Members of the General Assembly are working hard to quickly implement an exam policy with greater educational productivity. A shorter exam can still effectively accomplish what we need to accomplish, without wasting instructional time and mentally draining young students.”

More than 450,000 Indiana students in 3rd – 8th grade are scheduled to take the ISTEP beginning Feb. 25.

Senators Dennis Kruse (R-Auburn) and Carlin Yoder (R-Middlebury) authored SB 62. In addition to Smith, State Reps. Casey Cox (R-Fort Wayne), Terri Jo Austin (D-Anderson), and David Ober (R-Albion) co-sponsored the legislation.

Members of the Indiana House unanimously passed SB 62 by a vote of 94-0. The legislation will now return to the Indiana Senate to concur with changes made in the House. If concurred, the bill will advance to Governor Mike Pence’s desk for final legislative action.