State Education Board Set To Lower ISTEP Passage Thresholds

Oct 13, 2015

The state's new, tougher exams meant fewer students would have passed the test if standards weren't lowered.
Credit Alberto G. /

During their monthly meeting Wednesday, Indiana’s State Board of Education plans to which scores count as passing grades for last year’s statewide ISTEP+ test – scores almost everyone expects to be lower than in previous years.

Indiana Department of Education staff and technical advisors have set expected ISTEP+ pass rates lower than actual pass rates seen in 2014. According to their calculations, if no changes were made, 16-percent fewer students would pass English and 24-percent fewer would pass math.

But DOE spokesman Daniel Altman says it’s not fair to compare last year’s results to this year’s because they’re based on two separate sets of academic standards.

"Where it becomes a problem is we’re currently operating under the old A-F accountability system, and that system treats this year’s results like it treated last year’s," Altman says. "So it’s treating them like apples to apples, even though they really aren’t. "

The federal Department of Education has offered states adopting new standards the option to “pause” accountability linked to test scores. But Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller insists state law prohibits Indiana from pursuing this option. But Altman says it's something state Superintendent Glenda Ritz wants to continue discussing.