Vigo County School Corporation weighs in on proposed changes for ISTEP

(WTHI File Photo)

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – The ISTEP has existed, in one form or another, for decades, but the standardized test has been at the center of political controversy in recent years. Now, state leaders are looking at a massive overhaul.

The proposed exam has cleared the first legislative hurdle. The Indiana House approved a bill to replace the controversial test by the 2018-19 school year.

“We were surprised to hear that there was a new bill introducing a different form of a test than what we have currently,” said Dr. Karen Goeller, Deputy Superintendent of the Vigo County School Corporation.

The new version would be titled, “Indiana’s Learning Evaluation Assessment” or ILEARN. Supporters want the test to be shorter and take less time to grade.

“That might be more useful to parents, if they’re looking for a different placement for their child, but also just knowing what the child needs to improve upon before they move on,” said Goeller.

The biggest changes would be structural. In order to graduate, the state would go back to requiring high school students to pass end-of-course assessments, not a 10th grade test like the state introduced in 2016. “Teachers would have to revamp everything, because they just made this change two years ago for the new format,” explained Goeller.

Educators worry the constant back and forth could negatively affect high school students trying to achieve their diploma. “There has not been stability, in terms of the high school piece, and that is of concern,” said Goeller.

Lawmakers acknowledged there are still a lot of questions about how ILEARN would work. According to a News 10 twitter poll, 16% agree the test should be shorter, 73% want to get rid of ISTEP, while 8% believe legislators should create a similar test to that of the current exam.

“It becomes very important that whatever test is used, that it’s a fair test and students have time to prepare for it,” said Goeller.

If the plan becomes law, the new test would be given for the first time in 2019. News 10 will continue to keep you updated on any decisions that are made.