Two bills crafted in response to lower-than-normal ISTEP exam scores have been signed by Governor Mike Pence. The measures protect teacher pay and school accountability grades through the transition to a new test.
The bill received bi-partisan support from most of the state’s top elected officials. It was fast-tracked through the legislative process in the General Assembly.
Governor Pence’s Statement:
"Today, we are saying thank you to Indiana’s dedicated teachers by ensuring that the results of our new test with higher standards will not negatively impact them, their families, or our schools. These new laws ensure that teacher compensation and bonuses will not be affected by the results of our recent ISTEP test and will ensure that our schools’ performance is fairly reflected when A-F grades are assigned later this year. I am grateful for the swift and bipartisan efforts by members of the General Assembly and the Superintendent that put our kids, schools, and teachers first."
Attendees of the governor’s signings include: Lieutenant Governor Sue Ellspermann, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz, House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-88), President Pro Tem David Long (R-16), House Minority Leader Scott Pelath (D-9) and Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane (D-35).
"The passage and enactment of this legislation is a welcome step and something that I have been fighting for over the last eighteen months. These common sense bills recognize the reality that when leadership in Indianapolis changes our standards, we need to give our schools time to adjust.
I have appreciated recent momentum behind this vital issue, but it is worth noting that this issue should have been dealt with a year ago. Had we done so, there is no doubt that much of the consternation and difficulty our schools experienced in the last year could have been avoided. Our students and schools need leadership that focuses on them, not ideology.
As a lifelong educator, I support accountability, but it has to be accountability that is fair. Moving forward, that should include looking at ways to reform our assessment and move beyond the expensive, lengthy, high stakes, pass/fail approach of ISTEP+."
Statement from Long:
"This legislation provides fairness for our teachers, students and schools that have had to deal with the problem-plagued 2015 ISTEP test. I was pleased to see the Indiana Senate and House of Representatives, Governor Pence, Superintendent Ritz and the State Board of Education work collaboratively to find a solution that is in the best interest of our schools and our state. I’m hopeful that we can now move forward and work together in a similar fashion to craft an improved testing program to better serve our schools and children in the future."
Statement from Bosma:
"House and Senate leaders, the Department of Education and the governor’s office agreed early on that we had to act quickly to ensure teachers and schools were held harmless from the transition to the new ISTEP standards. Our teachers and schools worked hard to prepare students for our new, tougher tests, and the lower scores are not a reflection of their efforts. Legislators worked at record pace to send these bills through the process, and we will be looking at ways to establish a framework for a more effective and streamlined test in the future."
Statement from Pelath:
"Today, the Governor signed House Bill 1003 and Senate Bill 200, which help schools, teachers, and students through the transition to new academic standards. Fortunately in Indiana, those who vociferously disagree on many issues can still work together on matters with broad consensus."