INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
Major changes in the state’s education policies will have Indiana students
taking new, different standardized tests in each of the next two academic
years, officials said Monday.
The first ISTEP
test is being created by contractor CTB/McGraw-Hill for use during the
upcoming school year. Federal education officials have said that test would
have to be given this year in order for the state to maintain its waiver
from the No Child Left Behind law.
The state will also
seek a contractor to design a new test for the 2015-2016 school year, state
officials told members of an education roundtable that includes teachers
unions and charter school operators Monday.
Gov. Mike Pence,
speaking at the first of two back-to-back education meetings Monday
afternoon, said teachers and parents should understand that the first test
is only temporary and will be replaced once work developing the second test
“We’ll be ready
with the revised ISTEP at the end of this coming school year, and what we’re
talking about here, ultimately, is to go forward with a new test,” Pence
said Monday, during a meeting of the state’s Education Roundtable.
The new tests come
as part of the state’s exit from the national Common Core education
standards, a move Pence signed into law in the spring.
The tests are also
a response to the state’s efforts to keep its federal waiver. U.S.
Department of Education officials placed Indiana on watch in the spring
after a review found problems with its monitoring of low-performing schools.
If the state loses its waiver, it could lose control over a portion of the
roughly $200 million in federal “Title I” funds it receives each year.
The state had been
set to continue using the current ISTEP tests through the upcoming year, but
starting the new test this fall was one of the federal requirements put in
place for keeping the waiver.
back-to-back meetings continued much of the political tension that has
marked the dual-reign over education by Democratic Schools Superintendent
Glenda Ritz and Pence, a Republican. Pence and Ritz disagreed on the
latter’s proposal to add reading requirements into whatever new tests are
created, sparking a spirited but civil debate at the roundtable.
But discussions at
the State Board of Education, which has been home to some of the most
visceral political fights in the state, took on a combative tone almost
immediately after that meeting started.
recalled battles between Ritz and the Republican-appointed board, including
Ritz’s walkout last year and her failed lawsuit against the other board
members. An internal email from the Pence administration, at the time,
discussed options for limiting Ritz’s power. But Pence later said that was
never considered seriously.
Much of the recent
flare-ups between board members and Ritz have focused on whether the state
will maintain its No Child waiver.
Board member Dan
Elsener, Marian University president and a close ally of former School
Superintendent Tony Bennett, questioned Ritz’s ability to submit a complete
application to the federal government on time. Oliver complained that Ritz’s
staff has not been giving board members complete information about the
But Ritz assured
the group a complete submission would be made to the federal government by
next Monday’s due date.
“I live and breathe
this waiver,” Ritz said.