A Joint Statement from Miami County School Corporations regarding ISTEP+ Testing:
Accountability has been a major focus for Indiana’s public schools since the inception of the ISTEP+ test in 1988. The three school corporations in Miami County (Maconaquah Schools, Peru Community Schools, & North Miami Schools) are very willing to be held accountable for the performance of any of our students and their teachers. The ISTEP+ test is administered to students in grades three through eight in English/language arts, mathematics, science and social studies. This year, preliminary results were released to school corporations on November 6, 2015 and the same results were released to parents on November 9, 2015. We believe the data to be an inaccurate reflection of our students’ academic accomplishments and the quality of teaching in our classrooms.
A great deal of conversation and concern have surrounded the 2015 ISTEP+ test and its anticipated results. This test, required by the State of Indiana as an accountability measure for our schools and teachers, appears to have no end of issues. Much has already been said about the delivery, the politics, the delays, etc. The issue that may be generating the greatest concern however is the anticipated, inevitable drop in student scores from the previous year. Inevitable because data prove anytime there is a change in the content and/or construction of such high stakes tests, scores will drop the first year. They drop because it takes time for both the curriculum and the instruction to catch up and align to the new standards, and it takes time for initial problems to be worked out of the test.
Now, we are provided with raw pass/fail information without supporting data on what areas students need improvement. Over half of the testing year is over and we are no closer to receiving pertinent information about student outcomes than before. Next year’s information will also be circumspect because of the tardiness in scores and the inability of a district to remediate before the next test.
In Addition, school “letter grades” will be derived from these flawed ISTEP+ scores. Unless the Indiana General Assembly and our Governor choose to acknowledge this round of ISTEP+ tests is flawed and provide Indiana’s school corporations a “pause,” we face large numbers of failing schools and school corporations.
We are sending this letter to provide you with the facts about our ISTEP+ testing process. Be aware our schools are doing our best to respond to the results we have received. We are asking you to let your legislators know you are concerned about this flawed system and would like to have a remedy for the sake of your children.
In Closing, we do not believe our communities are below standard—we do not believe one test measures our children—we believe the state testing process to be a flawed attempt to implement a legislative agenda.