Letter to the Legislators of Indiana and State Board of Education:
As the superintendents of Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents (IAPSS) District lV Schools, we want to express concerns about the results of the past two years of ISTEP+ testing and how these questionable test results can be used to label our schools. Public educators and administrators across the state have worked hard to gain the trust of our parents and community members as we have provided daily educational experiences that will ensure success for Indiana students as they enter the workforce or post-secondary educational institutions.
We are supportive of rigorous accountability measures at the state and local levels; however, it is critical that the diagnostic measures used to determine student growth, and ultimately school and corporation letter grades, be reliable and valid. In addition, they should include various considerations beyond one test score. During the past two school years, significant changes have been made to the current ISTEP+ test. The rush to make these changes, without allowing educators the appropriate time to “retool” in the classroom, has led to an unnecessary decline in school/corporation scores across the state. At a time when legislators should be supporting public education in an effort to attract quality industry to the state that provides high wages and good benefits, they have painted an inaccurate assessment of the academic accomplishments of our public schools. Throughout the past several years in our state, accountability measures have increased many times and our public schools have met, and in many cases surpassed these expectations when given the appropriate time to respond.
As work to develop a new accountability system continues, we believe that it makes good sense to provide school leaders with a seat at the table as the new accountability system is being developed. We believe we have the background, resources, and knowledge that could aid in the development of a quality assessment that would provide a more accurate measure of information learned by students in our public schools. To that end, we strongly encourage our elected officials and the SBOE not to use the results of the current ISTEP+ assessment to designate letter grades for schools and corporations.
We vehemently request that the A-F grading system be paused, and schools be provided with a hold harmless provision from the results of the 2015-2016 ISTEP+. Refusing to provide a hold harmless provision fails to take into account the fact that for the second year in a row, ISTEP results have not been released in a timely manner, which significantly reduces the opportunity to provide remediation to improve student performance. After nearly a year of meetings by the Assessment Committee, which was commissioned by the 2016 General Assembly, Indiana does not appear to be any closer to changing our failing testing system. Placing inaccurate letter grades on our schools and school corporations violates the trust of the electorate.
We are confident that the current test scores do not accurately reflect our students’ yearly achievement and the extraordinary efforts our teachers make each day in the classroom. A hold harmless provision from the 2015-16 ISTEP+ results for our schools and students is the right thing to do, and we call upon our state leaders to take a stance in support of public education in Indiana.
Signed: District IV Superintendents
Greg Linton Cloverdale Schools Michele Moore MSD Martinsville Schools
Jeff Fritz Clay Schools Chad Briggs Spencer-Owen Schools
Shawn Greiner Southmont Schools Tom Rohr North Central Parke Schools
Bruce Bernhardt South Putnam Schools Phil Harrison Southwest Parke Schools
Jeff Gibboney Eminence Schools David Chapman South Vermillion Schools
Ralph Shrader MSD Warren Schools David Marcotte Mooresville Schools
Tim Rayle Clay Schools Kirk Booe Covington Schools
Dan Noel North Putnam Schools Bob Hacker White River Valley Schools
Colleen Moran North Montgomery Schools Doug Allison Southeast Fountain Schools
Scott Bowling Crawfordsville Schools Ernie Simpson Clay Schools
Scott Hanback Tippecanoe Schools Les Huddle Lafayette Schools
Daniel Tanoos Vigo Schools Chris Stitzle Southwest Schools
Rod Hite Richland-Bean Blossom Schools Dan Nelson North Vermillion Schools
Mark Baker Northeast Schools Judith DeMuth Monroe Schools
Gregg Hoover Benton Schools Jeffery Hubble Greencastle Schools
Mike Mogan MSD Shakamak Schools Derek Marshall Attica Schools
Nick Karazsia Linton-Stockton Schools William Roberson Monroe-Gregg Schools
Mike Wilcox Richland Bean-Blossom Schools Rocky Killion West Lafayette Schools