Local schools won’t be held responsible for the mishandled 2015 accountability tests by state leaders and the contractor who implemented the tests.
Gov. Mike Pence signed two bills that will “hold harmless” schools and teachers for lower grades on the state’s A-F system because of difficulties implementing the new test.
The General Assembly and Pence realize penalizing kids for the mistakes of adults would not have been fair. And the students, not just the inanimate “school” and the teachers, would have been penalized. Students won’t be labeled as failing or falling backward based on a bungled assessment process.
Last year’s ISTEP was based on new, more rigorous academic standards put in place in the state.
More rigor isn’t a problem; in fact, it should be encouraged. For more than a year, though, critics of the testing process, including Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz, tried to warn state officials that a new test without appropriate time to teach new material will cause a precipitous drop in scores.
And that’s what happened. In addition, some technical issues during testing caused additional reason to believe the 2015 scores would not accurately reflect the teaching and learning going on in Indiana schools.
Even though they were a little late in doing so, good for legislators and the governor to realize the problem and take action.
Accountability is necessary in the world of education. It’s important to measure how well students are learning the information teachers are trying to share. But the rigidity of standardized tests and A to F scoring should be rethought.
Some accommodations are in the grading scale now for improvement, and that really should be one of the most important factors. Schools that improve their scores should be celebrated, even if they don’t make an artificial cutoff. Steady improvement should be a goal.
Educators and some members of the General Assembly understand the need to go beyond this temporary fix. Patches won’t cover up all the flaws in the state’s accountability system. An overhaul is in order.