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Education Bill Proposes ISTEP Replacement

Benjamin Chun

The Senate may take up a bill to scrap Indiana schools’ state-mandated tests.

Sens. Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville) and Ryan Mishler (R-Bremen) have proposed junking the Core 40 end-of-course assessments entirely, and replacing ISTEP with something shorter, cheaper, and easier to grade.

President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne) says students and teachers are frustrated with how much time is spent either taking tests or getting ready for them. And he says he‘s still hearing complaints from schools in his district about problems with McGraw-Hill‘s administration of ISTEP.

“Particularly at the end of the Core 40, the assessments that we have right now, a lot of teachers and experts say that’s unnecessary and we’re just overwhelming our kids with tests,” Long says.

The bill calls for replacing ISTEP with what the legislation calls a "nationally recognized" test after next school year. Long says a national test would be adapted to reflect Indiana‘s curriculum standards.

“Give, for example, the NWEA tests. They used those just as a snapshot for kids three times a year, maybe in some of the schools I represent. A lot of schools use that test,” Long says. “Can you adapt that? Could you go to a SAT/PSAT type test?”

The bill also includes a version of Governor Pence‘s call for so-called "innovation network" schools which would enjoy regulatory freedom similar to the rules governing charter schools. Legislators gave the Indianapolis Public Schools that flexibility last year.

Long says he doesn‘t know if the votes are there to replace ISTEP, but says it‘s time to discuss the issue.

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