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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.

Indiana has created a testing mess

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press

And it's hard to see how it can be fixed.

Monday, December 07, 2015 05:37 am
When there were howls of outrage from parents, taxpayers and teachers, it quickly became obvious that the Common Core academic standards had been adopted hastily, without the research and vetting such an important policy change must get.

And when Indiana bowed to the pressure and abandoned Common Core, it quickly became obvious that the state was dumping the standards without the research and vetting such an important policy change must get.

Without Common Core, the state needed some standards, so education officials cobbled something together as part of the ISTEP testing program, apparently without a lot of thought and preparation. The results are starting to come in now, and they are not pretty.

School superintendents from around the state are using words like “botched,” “boondoggle” and “fiasco” to describe the standardized testing system. And they are writing letters to parents urging them not to “draw rash conclusions” based on the results of the test.

It’s good advice. The Indiana Department of Education has said about 65 percent of students will have passing marks on ISTEP’s language arts section and about 59 percent passed the math section. More than 80 percent of students passed each part of the 2014 exam.

Seven superintendents from Elkhart County wrote a news release saying, in part, “If something is not done to fix Indiana’s accountability system, the vast majority of schools across the state of Indiana will be slapped with a grade of C, D, or F. As a result of this broken system, schools that have been very successful for many years will be robbed of instructional time with students because schools will be required to complete massive amounts of paperwork to document a plan to address their ‘low grade.’ ”

The state clearly needs to fix this, but it’s hard to understand how it will. Democratic Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz and Republican legislators have spent more time trying to antagonize each other than they have trying to find education solutions. We know we’re beating a dead horse here, but it really is time to take the superintendent’s job off the ballot and make it an appointive position. 

And whatever they decide to do, can they please, please, please not skip the research and vetting this time?

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