Ritz favors personalized test for ISTEP+ replacement

2013-09-10T16:00:00Z 2013-09-11T00:49:04Z Ritz favors personalized test for ISTEP+ replacementBy Dan Carden dan.carden@nwi.com, (317) 637-9078 nwitimes.com
September 10, 2013 4:00 pm  • 

INDIANAPOLIS | Indiana's schools chief told state lawmakers Tuesday they should choose an adaptive testing model, where online questions increase or decrease in difficulty based on a student's prior answers, to replace the ISTEP+ standardized exam.

"I want to have measures in the state of Indiana that are pertinent to student-level growth," said Glenda Ritz, the Democratic state superintendent of public instruction. "We want to know where every student is, we want to know how we get them where they need to go and we want to advance students as they need to be advanced in their learning."

Ritz said ISTEP+ is a pass/fail exam that only can tell educators whether a student is performing at his or her specific grade level. She said the state then spends $25 million a year remediating poorly performing students so they can pass the test.

An adaptive test not only would determine the grade level a student is achieving at, regardless of what grade he or she is in, but shorter tests conducted in the fall and spring would produce a more accurate measure of student growth and teacher effectiveness, she said.

The Legislature's Common Core study committee is reviewing student testing as part of a decision by the Republican-controlled General Assembly to reconsider the 2010 adoption of Common Core educational standards by the Republican-appointed State Board of Education.

In July, Indiana withdrew from a multistate Common Core testing consortium in accordance with a new law requiring the state education board to decide by July 1, 2014, whether to keep Common Core, adapt Common Core or replace it with a state-developed set of college- and career-ready standards.

Ritz said she expects a new test, based on whichever standards Indiana adopts, to be first used during the 2015-16 school year.

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