The Indiana State Board of Education unanimously voted today during its monthly business meeting to create a new permanent committee of national experts to guide the state in the development of the ISTEP+ assessment and avoid issues that have impacted the test in the past.
The new standing Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), comprised of national independent assessment experts, will monitor the development of the ISTEP+ test in the hopes of avoiding issues such as excessive testing length, scoring problems, and comparability issues between online and paper/pencil tests. Many other states utilize a standing TAC. Indiana currently uses national experts during transition years and to help resolve problems. The creation of this standing TAC was a recommendation of national experts as a best practice moving forward.
“This committee of national experts will help the state avoid the ISTEP+ issues of the past,” said Sarah O’Brien, Vice Chair of the State Board of Education. “Many of the current ISTEP+ issues could have been avoided had the experts been engaged at the beginning of the process. This should improve the testing experience for students, parents and teachers in the future.”
The Board also received updates from Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) and Charter Schools USA concerning the operation of the state’s turnaround academies. IPS reported significant improvement in the past month in the culture and environment at Arlington High School since IPS reconfigured operation of the building. Board Members expressed concern about behavioral issues reported earlier in the year, but recognized the positive steps currently taking place.
“It is good to see recent changes starting to make a positive impact at Arlington,” said B.J. Watts, State Board Member representing the 8th Congressional District. “It is my expectation that IPS continues to fast track its plans to improve Arlington for the students who attend the school.”
Charter Schools USA provided an update to the Board on its efforts to improve Howe and Manual High Schools and Emma Donnan Middle School. Charter Schools USA spoke to the Board about the ability of its new K-6 elementary schools at Emma Donnan, operated in partnership with IPS, to help students arrive at middle school prepared for those grades.
In other business, the Board voted to give graduation credit to students who pass either the 10th Grade ISTEP+ test or College and Career Readiness Assessment. It also approved awarding of grants to schools for purchasing formative tests in grades K-2 and approved funding for the state’s turnaround academies in Gary and Indianapolis.
The next meeting of the State Board of Education will take place on Tuesday, January 19, 2016 in the Indiana Government Center South – Auditorium at 9:00 a.m.