Teachers could grade ISTEP replacement test under proposal

An Indiana lawmaker has proposed having teachers grade the state's new standardized test, as major decisions loom for the replacement of the current ISTEP exams.

State Rep. Robert Behning, a Republican, told The Indianapolis Star that his plan would make participation optional and enable the state to compensate teachers who participate.

The ISTEP exam is currently graded by the state's testing vendor, Pearson Education, which hires evaluators who have four-year degrees but may not come from a teaching background. The state has paid the vendor $32 million to administer the test for two years.

After concerns were raised about the legitimacy of past results, involving teachers in scoring would build trust in the test, Behning said. He said he would like participating teachers to grade the tests outside of school hours and be paid per question. The cost of having teachers grade the exam is not yet known.

Marianne Perie, a testing expert with the Center for Assessment and Accountability Research and Design, said the proposal would improve the way content is taught. But she said the state could experience slower scoring and less consistency among graders.

Education leaders have said they want a quicker turnaround in results than the current month-long wait.

Lawmakers will discuss a new standardized test during the upcoming legislative session, which begins in January.

The Republican-dominated Legislature voted this year to mandate that ISTEP be replaced for the 2017-18 school year, but lawmakers have said the deadline will likely be delayed because the new exams won't be ready in time.

ISTEP exams are taken by more than 400,000 students a year.

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