Department of Education Issues New ISTEP Requirements

Calls for reduced test times have prompted the Indiana Department of Education to issue guidance eliminating certain questions from the ISTEP test.

The reductions come shortly after new rules were adopted by the Indiana General Assembly. Those alterations, however, come close to the actual testing dates.

Plymouth Community Schools Superintendent Dan Tyree says if testing times can be reduced; it should’ve been done well in advance.

“I think the public should be irate that we have political volleyball being played with the ISTEP test and that’s exactly what’s happening,” says Tyree.

According to guidance released by the Department of Education, portions of the Math and Language Arts sections will be dropped. By eliminating those portions, it will save test takers about three hours and five minutes at all grade levels.

ISTEP is used to measure student progress, but is also used in teacher evaluations around the state. Multiple school corporations in the immediate area have criticized using ISTEP as an evaluation tool.

Tyree says it’s an unusual step to use one test as an evaluation.

“Their principal sees what they’re doing throughout that entire 180-day period and then you take a 7-hour period on a test and say ‘well, you didn’t do very well this year’ and so you’re going to get an F or you’re going to get a D,” says Tyree.

ISTEP tests will be administered in many area schools in March and April.

Private schools receiving choice vouchers may soon have the option to administer a test other than the ISTEP under a bill being considered in the Indiana Senate. Whether reducing ISTEP test times makes public education more competitive remains to be seen.

Tyree says he recommends residents ask how much ISTEP costs taxpayers, and ask educators if the test is effective at measuring student knowledge.