(Fort Wayne) News-Sentinel
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence says he has “confidence in the integrity” of a State Board of Education administrator despite findings by The Associated Press revealing the administrator altered a report detailing an independent investigation into the unpopular ISTEP exam.
He might want to scale back his enthusiasm. The AP obtained documents showing State Board of Education Executive Director John Snethen made edits and requested changes to the report, many of which reflected poorly on the decision by Pence and his GOP allies to adopt last year’s exam after dropping national Common Core standards.
In other words, it looks like he was changing an objective report into one that made Republicans look less bad.
Snethen helped shape the content through 92 deletions, revisions and comments, raising questions about how independent the investigation into the ISTEP program was, the AP reportred. For example, Snethen objected to strong language in an early version that stated: “It is safe to say that the 2015 ISTEP+ program is a work in progress, put in place quickly and without the usual procedures (e.g., field testing) used with most new assessment programs.”
“Why is it safe to say this?” Snethen asked in notes typed into the draft, adding: “This is an example of a statement that could raise concern.” The phrase was not included in the final version of the report.
Other draft language that did not make it into the final version included a passage that rated the state exams a “B-” overall.
This is just one more in a series of hasty or ill-thought-out steps that have thrown public education in Indiana into chaos. The state was one of the first to adopt Common Core, without paying much attention to the chorus of criticism from parents. Then, when the criticism became too strong to ignore, the state hastily abandoned Common Core, again without much thought or preparation.
The ISTEP test used to replace the Common Core test was just awful, requiring a staggering 12 hours for students to complete. There have also been questions about whether it was scored properly and even if it is an accurate measure of what it is supposed to test.
The state has created quite an education mess for itself. It won’t get out of it with public relations or “messaging” nuances.