The Indiana Education Roundtable and State Board of Education have approved recommendations for future statewide student testing, including a proposal to modify ISTEP. Also during a session Monday, a motion to add a resolution to the board agenda concerning the state's federal No Child Left Behind waiver was denied. Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz, who chairs the board, says the state will meet the June 30 deadline for extending its NCLB waiver.

June 23, 2014

News Release

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Indiana's education policy makers had a busy day as the Indiana Education Roundtable and State Board of Education (SBOE) met in back-to-back sessions today to make recommendations for future assessments for Indiana students and to review newly developed resource guides for teachers.

The Education Roundtable, co-chaired by Governor Mike Pence and Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz– debated recommendations for the new 2015-16 student assessments. The recommendations, which included retaining IREAD-3 and modifying administration of ISTEP+ to 9th and 10th grades to measure student progress into high school, will be forwarded to the SBOE for consideration and may ultimately influence the state's upcoming Request for Proposals to develop the new assessment tool. An amendment to expand ISTEP+ in grade 3-10 with the addition of a reading component was defeated.

“We have taken an important step forward by adopting rigorous new standards, and we are continuing this journey by developing new, more rigorous state tests,” said Governor Pence. “On behalf of Hoosier students, we must work together to oversee a smooth transition that will ultimately contribute to the economic vitality and well-being of our state.”

The development of new assessments is required to align and support the state's adoption of new academic standards back in April, a stipulation of the federal No Child Left Behind waiver, which has been threatened with conditional approval by the US Department of Education. The state's response to the wavier monitoring report is due June 30, and weighed heavily on the SBOE's business agenda following the Education Roundtable's discussions.

Dr. Brad Oliver, SBOE's 6th District member, sought to initially add a resolution to the SBOE agenda regarding the waiver submission, a request that was denied by the board chair, Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz. The resolution was offered as several board members had expressed frustration over the lack of completed information they've received relative to the waiver submission. Copies of the draft shared with members from the Department of Education last week were different than the on-line version posted the next day by the Department. Only one of three sets of accompanying attachments were shared late Friday, and the remaining attachments still not been shared with the board by its meeting time.

“While I appreciate the Superintendent calling this special meeting to inform the Board regarding the waiver submission, the SBOE cannot in good faith formally make recommendations on the entirety of the submission due to incomplete information and lack of timely submission of information for our review,” said Oliver. “This waiver is critically important to our kids and the flexibility of our schools, and the clock is running out.”

Also timely to the state-wide education efforts, the Board also approved the adoption of newly created Standards Resource Guides to assist teachers with the transition to new academic standards this fall. The guides will be shared with educators during a number of summer sessions conducted by the Department of Education, as well as available on line for parents or members of the general public. Tools such as glossaries, a crosswalk comparison of new standards to the former standards, and a suggested reading list for classrooms are included. All materials are provided by the Department are for supplemental guidance, with teachers and local schools systems making final decisions over what will be utilized in the classroom.

A letter from Fourth District member Sarah O’Brien was shared with the Board, asking again for the Department to increase its outreach to textbook vendors to provide supplemental materials for teachers in aligning lesson plans to the new standards. O’Brien, a second grade teacher, had previously asked for the DOE to encourage vendors to expand their offerings to assist teachers in transition planning.

In other business, the SBOE amended its board procedures to allow electronic participation by members when at least five board members are physically present, and approved a second amended procedure clarifying public comment may be given by meeting attendees concerning either a specific topic before the board or simply a comment general in nature. The change reversed a previously modified rule stating public comments could be directed only to a topic on the Board’s agenda.

Action also included the SBOE's approval to move from the existing ISTAR assessment to the National Center for State Collaborative (NCSC). Approximately 7000 Hoosier students receive the ISTAR assessment, which is administered to students with cognitive disabilities. The test was piloted earlier this spring by more than 200 Indiana teachers conducting more than 770 assessments, and provides a more student-centric approach to meet the rigor required by the federal government. The Board's action followed the Education Roundtable's earlier recommendation to move to the NCSC assessment.

Sources: The Indiana Education Roundtable, The Indiana State Board of Education

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