Plan to replace ISTEP advances with some reservations

Rep. Robert Behning, R-Indianapolis, describing ISTEP legislation to the Ways and Means Committee.

By Megan Powell

A plan to get rid of ISTEP is moving forward. Rep. Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis, said under House Bill 1395, the 2016-2017 school year would be the final to administer the test.

“It repeals ISTEP as we know it, creates a commission of a broad base of stakeholders, educators, administrators, business leaders, policy makers all come together and look at next generation performance, what it looks like,” said Behning. “Now we are going to go ahead and look at performance going forward. They will come up with the next generation test, that when adopted, will replace ISTEP.”

The bill would allow the Department of Education, along with the State Board of Education, to contract a third-party vendor to rescore the 2015 ISTEP test. Many want a rescore to be done so that the established baseline under the new ISTEP test can be validated, and to restore confidence in the assessment going forward. Rescoring the entire ISTEP test could cost up to $10 million.

Even though the rescore would not be mandated, those against the bill felt like the rescore is the problem.

“I don’t know why we’re doing this exercise in futility,” said Rep. Terry Goodin, D-Austin.

The bill passed the Ways and Means Committee Thursday with a 14-8 vote. The bill’s author, Behning, said he was shocked by the outcome.

“I just can’t believe that they would vote no,” Behning said.

The bill has been sent to the House for further discussion.


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