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After outcry, Indiana's ISTEP test length to be cut

September 8, 2015

Indiana's much-maligned standardized student test will likely be hours shorter in length when more than 400,000 students take it next year.

State Department of Education projections provided Tuesday to a legislative panel show that the next ISTEP test is expected to take about nine hours. That would make it some three hours shorter than the test given to Indiana students earlier this year.

The legislative panel will hold more meetings concerning the test in coming weeks and is expected to issue a report leading to changes in the way the ISTEP will be given.

The exam became the focus of outage from parents and educators in February after test times ballooned to 12 hours. Lawmakers and educators also balked at the cost of administering the test. That happened after the test was redesigned to align it with new state standards created after Indiana withdrew from the national Common Core standards last year.

As a result of the troubles, Indiana switched testing companies in March, scrapping vendor CTB/McGraw-Hill in favor of Pearson Education Inc.

In recent years, CTB/McGraw-Hill had a rocky relationship with the state and reached a $3 million settlement with the DOE over widespread disruptions as thousands of students were kicked off their online exams in 2013.

On Tuesday, John O'Neal, a lobbyist for the Indiana State Teachers Association pointed to another problem with the ISTEP test tied to CTB/McGraw-Hill. He said monthslong delays in the scoring of tests means teachers will have to wait for merit raises. The results of the test are key for determining teacher pay raises and improvement plans, he said.

Without action by the state, teachers could go without a portion of their pay during the upcoming holiday season, O'Neal said.

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