INDIANAPOLIS - The Indiana Department of Education has released the results of the first ILEARN exam conducted in the spring. The results show only 37.1 percent of students in grades 3-8 passed the exam, a decrease of more than 13 percent from the previous year's ISTEP+ test. Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick says a drop in test scores was expected with the implementation of the new exam and the 2019 results "do not provide a true reflection of the performance of Indiana's schools."

At a news conference on the results, McCormick had praise for Hoosier schools.

"I want to commend our schools who are working hard on a daily basis," said McCormick. "The good news for Indiana is we are seeing (an) uptick in trends nationally with our performance and we cannot lose sight of this. ILEARN was a snapshot in time. It was a one-day assessment. It gave us information on where students are performing but there a lot of pieces to student performance beyond one assessment."

According to the results, 47.9 percent of students statewide passed the English/Language Arts portion of the exam, while 47.8 percent passed the Math portion. That compares with 64.1 percent and 58.3 percent, respectively, during the ISTEP+ test the previous year.

Additionally, 47.4 percent of sixth and eight graders passed the Science portion of the exam, compared to 63.2 percent a year earlier. The results also show 46 percent of fifth graders passed the Social Studies portion of the ILEARN in 2019, compared to 63.5 percent on the ISTEP+ in 2018.

Last week, Governor Eric Holcomb announced he would request the Indiana General Assembly to hold schools harmless, which would prevent the scores from affecting the schools' letter grades and teacher evaluations.

McCormick said she would also propose that effort to legislators. She says the IDOE will also propose a pause in intervention timelines for all schools to prevent them from being penalized to where they could potentially face a state takeover. The department will also seek to provide the State Board of Education with emergency rulemaking authority "to review and reestablish the state accountability system."

McCormick was asked if the millions of dollars the state has spent to implement ILEARN was worth it. McCormick said that was an important question to ask.

"There's a lot of money on the line; there's a lot of time on the line, a lot of stress on the line. That's the piece that we need to have that discussion about anytime you stand up a new test. The last one was $10 million; it's extremely expensive. Now this last one had a lot more to it because you're assessing kids differently. The skills that we looked at were weighted differently. (There was) one mode as far as computer adaptive versus paper/pencil and computer, so there were a lot of differences to the exam. But I do think the question of, 'Is it worth the fiscal piece of it?' at a time when educators are 50 out of 50 on seeing pay raises since 2002, I think it's a question to we need to continue to have conversations regarding."

The IDOE says the ILEARN exam assesses the same Indiana Academic Standards as ISTEP+, but with a "redefined focus on rigorous college-and-career readiness." 

You can connect to the full results, including spreadsheets with individual schools and districts by clicking here.