Lower ISTEP scores released after months-long delay

Following ongoing controversy over Indiana student assessments, the Indiana Department of Education on Wednesday released long-awaited statewide and local 2015 ISTEP scores.

The scores were released about five months later than they were for the previous year's test and the passing rates were significantly lower, as expected.

In 2015, 67.3 percent of students passed the English/Language Arts section, 61 percent passed the Mathematics section and 53.5 percent passed both sections. Additionally, 69.2 percent of fourth-grade and sixth-grade students passed the Science section and 70.4 percent of fifth-grade and seventh-grade students passed the optional Social Studies section.

Education leaders say the 2015 ISTEP scores are not comparable to previous years’ results because of changes to the 2015 assessment. They say the results should be used to show how many students are meeting new, rigorous college- and career-ready standards after the exam was modified to include new benchmarks at each grade level.

In 2014, 80.7 percent of students passed the English/Language Arts section, 83.5 percent passed the Mathematics section and 74.7 percent passed both portions.

“After years of legislative changes at both the state and federal level, our schools were asked once again to implement new standards and subject students to a new assessment without time to transition,” Glenda Ritz, superintendent of public instruction, said in a written statement.

A bill introduced in the Senate on Tuesday would prevent the 2015 results from hurting school-accountability grades because of the drop in scores.

Wednesday’s announcement accompanied Ritz’s call for an end to the “one-size-fits-all high stakes approach" of the ISTEP, according to the statement.

“Moving forward, I will work with the General Assembly to oversee the development of this assessment so we can better serve each individual student’s needs,” Ritz said. “In addition, as the Chair of the State Board of Education, I will recommend action to ensure that each school’s accountability grade is determined by meaningful measures and not just by test scores.”

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