Senate Panel Moves Forward ISTEP Replacement Bill

Mar 29, 2017

A bill to overhaul Indiana’s standardized testing system passed out of a Senate committee Wednesday, but some lawmakers say the legislation does little to clear up concerns with over testing.

House Bill 1003 sets up guidelines for a new state test that will replace the ISTEP+ and graduation requirement exams by 2019.

Lawmakers have sought to replace the ISTEP after facing years of technical problems in its administration and a drop in test scores.

Senate Education Committee Chairman Dennis Kruse says the amended bill seeks to fix a few problems, such as reducing the time spent testing and speeding up reporting of scores.

Student’s scores must be reported to the state education board no later than August 15. An earlier version of the bill sought July as the score deadline but testing experts warned against such an early deadline.

The bill also now calls for a “nationally recognized college entrance assessment” to be used for grades 9-12. That means the SAT or ACT testing companies will likely be sought to offer end-of-course assessments in English 10, Biology I and Algebra I.

Kruse says the Department of Education would be required to seek proposals for a new exam to replace the ISTEP+ for grades 3-8. The undefined exam will be called ILEARN, as created by bill author Rep. Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis).

The State Board of Education is mandated to make the final choice on a new testing vendor based on department recommendations.

Before the committee voted, Sen. Aaron Freeman (R-Indianapolis) said the legislation did not address concerns about students being over tested.

“We still under this bill, as I understand it, are still going to test our kids to death. We are still going to do ISTEP, now we are going to rename it,” he says. “So we’ve done nothing in this bill to help that situation. That’s why I’m voting no.”

The bill passed 7-4 and now heads to the full Senate for a vote next week.