Indiana schools may avoid A-F grades for another year

(WTHI File Photo)
(WTHI File Photo)

VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) – ISTEP is a tool the Indiana Department of Education uses to measure each student’s academic progression. Last year, Indiana leaders found the test’s results were not a fair assessment for schools or students.

Now Indiana lawmakers are deciding if a second year of protection for low ISTEP scores is necessary for schools.

For decades, Indiana students have filled in ISTEP booklets. Two years ago, the test changed and became more challenging. With the exam’s upgrade came significant drops in scores statewide.

“Many people recognize there have been problems with the test given online problems and the lengthy turnaround from one test to the next,” said Karen Goeller, Deputy Superintendent of Vigo County School Corporation.

Test results from last year were published to parents last week. This means students only have three months between receiving their scores and taking the next round of ISTEP.

Because of this long delay and online issues, the Indiana Department of Education felt last year’s new test was not a fair assessment for students or schools.

Indiana leaders granted a statewide protection for each school. This kept teacher evaluations from suffering from the low scores statewide. It also allowed schools to pick the better of the two grades they received to represent their academic performance.

“We haven’t heard this year as to whether they’re going to continue that hold harmless provision or if these grades will count,” said Goeller.

Now Indiana leaders are discussing if they’ll grant a second year of protection.

Incoming Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jennifer McCormick says she’s in support of not counting last year’s ISTEP scores so teachers, schools and districts aren’t held accountable unfairly.

Although individual scores were released, each school’s overall assessment isn’t public information yet.

They will receive a letter grade on the A-F scale.

“They may say again you can go back and choose grades and pick so these grades may be meaningless,” said Goeller.

Goeller says one of the best assessments though is what teachers observe first hand.

“Those scores are not as useful because they’re older than some of the classroom data that teachers are collecting,” said Goeller.

Teachers spend every day with their students. So sometimes it’s simply watching a child in their normal classroom setting to see just how far they’ve come.

“Many times that’s more valuable than a test that’s 9 months old,” said Goeller.

News 10 will continue to keep you updated on this statewide protection as information becomes available.