Governor: Lower Pass Rates Of New ILEARN Exam Shouldn't Hurt Schools, Teachers

New results of Indiana's ILEARN test for 3rd through 8th graders won't be released until next week, but those who have seen them are already asking that schools not be punished for lower scores.

(Indianapolis, Ind.) - Parents don't know yet how their kids scored in Indiana's statewide test, but state leaders who've seen the scores are not happy.

Scores from the new ILEARN test – the replacement for the long-used ISTEP exam – taken by about 500,000 3rd through 8th grade students in Indiana schools last spring are set to be released next week. But state and school officials are already shuddering at the results, which are currently embargoed with school administrators.

Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick says more kids did poorly or failed the English/language arts and mathematics portions of the ILEARN test last year.

“The combination of the rigors associated with this newly aligned college and career readiness assessment, national normative data, and the defined established performance cuts all contributed to the lower performance levels,” McCormick explained in a statement Monday. “While frustrating, performance dips at some level were expected, as previously experienced in 2014-2015 with the onset of the then newly implemented ISTEP+.”

Indiana Republican Governor Eric Holcomb on Monday asked McCormick and lawmakers to support his request to not punish local schools because of the low test scores. 

“The results will show a decrease compared to the previously administered ISTEP+ test. Since this is the first year of the ILEARN assessment, I will ask Superintendent McCormick to support my request that the General Assembly take action to hold schools harmless so the test scores do not have an adverse impact on teacher evaluations and schools’ letter grades for the 2018-19 school year,” said Holcomb.

“I appreciate the dedicated work of Hoosier educators. Bringing consistency and continuity to how we measure student progress and preparing students for post-secondary success is a shared and important goal.”

McCormick, Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis), and Indiana Senate Education Committee Chairman Sen. Jeff Raatz (R-Richmond) have both voiced support for holding schools harmless in a new test transition year.

“Historically in Indiana, transitioning from one test to another creates the possibility for an adjustment period,” said Raatz, adding that this year’s scores are not reflective of staff and students’ hard work and effort.  

“In the coming months, we will look to provide relief from the effects of the new ILEARN assessment for school districts for one year so schools, teachers and students can adjust to the new exam.”

The ILEARN assessment required for Indiana to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. While 3rd through 8th graders began taking the new test last school year, high school students are still using ISTEP. Starting in the 2021-2022 school year, high schools will use college entrance exams such as the SAT or ACT to measure student progress.

ILEARN results will be released to the public at the Indiana State Board of Education’s meeting on Wednesday, September 4.

RELATED STORIES:

New Test Still Two Years Away For Indiana High Schoolers

2018: ISTEP Scores Remain Low Statewide; View Local Results

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