Democratic Party calls for firing over altered ISTEP report

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The chairman of Indiana's Democratic Party called Thursday for the firing of a State Board of Education official who altered a report that detailed a so-called independent investigation into the troubled and unpopular ISTEP exam.

Chairman John Zody said that actions taken by State Board of Education Executive Director John Snethen "manipulated" the report that officials had billed as an "independent" review of the validity of the test, which was plagued by problems after it was revamped in 2015 and hastily rolled-out.

Zody cited a story by The Associated Press based on documents provided through a public records request that show Snethen made edits and requested changes to the report. Some passages Snethen altered or asked to change were critical of a decision by Gov. Mike Pence and his GOP allies to adopt last year's exam after dropping national Common Core math and English standards in favor of Indiana-specific ones that were included in the 2015 test.

"Any way you look at it, Mr. Snethen manipulated what was supposed to be an independent report to strike out information damaging to his boss, Governor Pence. This clearly crosses a line. It violates the public trust, it's unethical, and it's grounds for termination," Zody said in a written statement. "Mike Pence needs to do the right thing here—terminate this individual and explain to the public how this happened."

Pence spokeswoman Kara Brooks dismissed Zody's comments in a two sentence statement: "Hoosiers are tired of political antics. This doesn't merit a response."

The Republican governor previously said he has not seen changes made to the document and expressed "confidence in the integrity" of state education board, as well as its staff.

Republican Senate leader David Long said Thursday that the ISTEP has become a major problem and needs to be scrapped in favor of a different test.

"The test is damaged goods in my eye and a lot of other peoples' eyes and we need to move on," Long said.

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