Hebron schools unhappy ISTEP will continue

2013-05-19T20:20:00Z 2013-05-20T13:57:06Z Hebron schools unhappy ISTEP will continuePhil Wieland phil.wieland@nwi.com, (219) 548-4352 nwitimes.com

HEBRON | Hebron school officials were still upset Wednesday about the snafus with the state's ISTEP test and the legislature's move that will doom schools to one or two more years of giving the test.

Hebron Elementary School Principal James Martin said at Wednesday's School Board meeting, "I have nothing good to say about the ISTEP" after it took about two weeks for all the elementary students to complete the problem-plagued online test.

Martin said the school added a computer lab to help facilitate the testing, but the state requested that schools cut back to having a maximum of half the students taking the test at one time to ease the strain on the system.

Schools complained of not being able to log into the system or of students being kicked off the test. The second day of testing started smoothly, but problems soon resurfaced.

Martin said the testing was restricted to the mornings so students could still get their regular instruction. That scheduling and only being able to test half the students at a time stretched the test period out for two weeks. He said he didn't know what impact that would have on the scores, and the state should consider invalidating the test completely.

This was to be the final year of the ISTEP testing as the schools switched from the current Indiana Academic Standards study program to the Common Core, which all schools have been working toward for the past two years.

Common Core standards were developed by a national group of school officials and emphasize analytical reading and writing skills in all subjects. The standards have been adopted in 45 states and are being taught in kindergarten and first-grade classes in Indiana.

The program was to be expanded to all grade levels in the fall, but the Indiana General Assembly voted to delay full implementation for two years to allow more study of the change.

All schools will have to teach both standards and probably retain the ISTEP testing for another year. Hebron schools Superintendent George Letz said the district will continue to do the curriculum mapping in preparation for Common Core.

"The state school superintendent said we should do that although she has not said how she feels about Common Core or the assessment delay," Letz said. "We are waiting to see how the legislation works. The legislature feels Common Core was forced on the state.

"They've talked about Indiana students being more competitive with other students in the nation, and the Common Core standards will do that."

Martin said he didn't know how the schools are going to be able to teach both standards or how the state will grade the teachers based on the test results under such conditions.

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