Proposal to repeal and rescore ISTEP moves to the Senate 

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By Rachel Hoffmeyer

ISTEP could become a thing of the past if a bill that has passed the House also finds success in the Senate.

Under the proposal, 2016-17 would be the final year to administer ISTEP. House Bill 1395 would also create a commission to determine what the future of assessment in Indiana would look like.

The bill would allow the State Board of Education to contract a third-party vendor to rescore the 2015 ISTEP test. If the board decided to rescore the test, it could opt to rescore the entire test or just a small sample of tests.

“They would definitely start with a small sample,” said Rep. Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis. “They do not want to do a total rescore without having some validation that it’s necessary.”

Rescoring the entire ISTEP test could cost up to $10 million and that has Rep. Vernon Smith, D-Gary, concerned.

“We had this discussion about a sample size, but it’s not in the bill,” he said. “What we have is a decision being given to the state school board to make that decision.”

Smith said he would vote for the bill, but wants Behning to figure out a limit on the rescore.

“Hopefully, they will not waste the money,” said Smith. “But I do believe that there is great concern across the state about us wasting our money on rescoring the test.”

Two bills signed into law last month already prevent the 2015 ISTEP scores from hurting schools and teachers. House Bill 1003 prevents the scores from unfavorably affecting a teacher’s evaluation, pay or bonuses. Senate Bill 200 prevents the 2015 ISTEP scores from hurting a school’s A-F accountability grade.

“If we believe the test is flawed,” said Smith, “and we made all of the concessions that we made relative to teacher evaluation, school grades, and school corporation grades. And it’s based upon the premise that the test was flawed, why would we want to rescore the test?”

Behning said the rescore would not change students’ scores, but instead it would serve as a baseline for future exams.

The bill advances to the Senate for consideration after passing 86-11.

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