By Jasmine Otam
Leaders at the Statehouse hope eliminating ISTEP will be the start to a stronger education system in Indiana.
At Eagle Elementary School in Zionsville Tuesday, Gov. Mike Pence signed legislation into law making ISTEP a thing of the past.
“This is the beginning of a new day in testing in our schools,” said Pence.
When Pence announced Tuesday that the 2016-2017 school year would be the last year Hoosier students would have to take ISTEP, some children in the gymnasium cheered.
“Now I expect some of that applause was from kids that are glad to hear the test is going away,” said Pence.
“The bad news is that we’re going to keep testing,” explained Pence as some of the students softly groaned. “The truth of the matter is—we’re going to have accountability in our tests, but we’re going to find a better way.”
The new law creates a panel of 23 people to find an alternative to ISTEP. The panel will include educators, legislators and Superintendent of Education Glenda Ritz.
Pence said the panel will offer a broad range of perspectives on testing that will better benefit Hoosier students.
“We’re going to ask the question ‘How can we do a better job of creating a test that will have the confidence of our parents and of our teachers for generations to come?’” Pence said.
In addition to the legislation to end ISTEP, the governor signed two other education bills into law Tuesday.
“I’ll be signing legislation that will make scholarships available for young Hoosiers who are interested in pursuing careers in education,” Pence said.
The Next Generation Hoosier Education Scholarship will reward up to 200 top high school graduates who commit to teaching for five years. The program, beginning in the 2017-2018 school year, will provide $7,500 a year.
Pence also signed into law the Career Pathways and Mentorship Program, which will provide supplemental pay for qualified teachers based on demonstrated effectiveness and taking on additional responsibilities in advanced roles. In addition to the mentorship program, this law also requires schools to disclose any knowledge of proven abuse or neglect incidents regarding a teacher.
In January, Pence approved two bills preventing the controversial 2015 ISTEP scores from unfavorably affecting teachers and schools.