For immediate release:
Jan. 6, 2016
INDIANAPOLIS - State Rep. Terri J. Austin (D-Anderson) is now a key member leading the growing legislative consensus designed to protect Indiana’s educational system from the ongoing disaster that is the ISTEP testing program.
Members of the Indiana House Education Committee today unanimously endorsed House Bill 1003, legislation co-authored by Austin with State Rep. Robert Behning (R-Indianapolis) that would prevent ISTEP scores and A-to-F accountability grades from being used to evaluate the performances of teachers across Indiana. That means a testing system that is now generally recognized to be egregiously flawed would not be used to impact teacher raises or Teacher Performance Grant awards.
The measure now moves to the full House for consideration, and Austin said she believes lawmakers in both the House and Indiana Senate will move to pass the provisions of HB 1003 into law as quickly as possible.
“What we are seeing today is that the need to overhaul our testing system has gained significant bipartisan support, not only from both sides of the aisle in the Indiana General Assembly, but with Gov. Mike Pence and the special interests who have a stake in this fight,” Austin said. “I would applaud state Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz for being steadfast in her belief that something needed to be done to correct what is wrong with ISTEP and its place in our educational system. The facts have proven her to be correct, and now it is not a question of if reforms will take place, but when.”
HB 1003 is one part of a legislative plan to offer relief to our state’s public school system. A companion measure (Senate Bill 200) would specify that a school’s A-F accountability grade for the 2014-15 school year cannot be lower than the school’s grade for the 2013-14 school year. Legislative leaders and Gov. Pence intend to move the measures through the Legislature and have them signed into law by the end of January.
“Everything that is happening on this issue is very heartening for those of us who have pointed out the minefields that have come with constant experimentation with the educational systems,” Austin said. “It would be my hope that this debate also will serve as an incentive for lawmakers and administration officials that there isn’t a need to constantly tinker with the ways we educate our children…that perhaps it’s time to take a deep breath and try and evaluate what we need to do over the next few years to make sure our children have the skills they need to thrive in a changing world.”