Candidates Share ISTEP, Teacher Shortage Viewpoints At First Gubernatorial Debate

Posted On September 28, 2016

By Mike Perleberg


Indiana’s 2016 gubernatorial candidates – (left to right) John Gregg, Rex Bell, and Eric Holcomb – debated education issues on Tuesday, September 27. Photo by Indiana Debate Commission.

(Indianapolis, Ind.) – The ISTEP test and Indiana’s teacher shortage was a point of disagreement when Indiana’s three gubernatorial candidates met for their first debate Tuesday.

Republican Lieutenant Governor Eric Holcomb, Democrat John Gregg, and Libertarian candidate Rex Bell took turns answering questions from high school students in a non-confrontational debate Tuesday morning. The Indiana Debate Commission event was held at Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis and shown in classrooms statewide in association with the Indiana Kids Election.


Holcomb said ISTEP should tell if a student is ready to advance.

“We need to replace it with a test that is fair and accurate, that we get results back quicker,” said Holcomb.

Gregg echoed Holcomb on the inefficiency of the test results.

“You take the test this year. You’re in another grade before the teacher gets any feedback and by that time it’s much too late to help you or the teacher. I think we need quicker feedback, but we still have to have accountability,” said Gregg, a former speaker of the Indiana House of Representatives.

Libertarian Bell says Indiana should get out of testing students at the state level and let local school districts worry about testing.

“Local schools are developing their own way of determining the test and the outcome of it. Certainly, we have always been in favor of returning more local control to the parents and the teachers and the school boards,” Bell said.

Indiana’s teacher shortage was also a point of contention. John Gregg is blamed the shortage on the demeaning of educators under Republican-backed school initiatives. Holcomb countered that Indiana isn’t alone in struggling to attract teachers, but needs to take action.

The debate was moderated by Laura Merrifield Albright, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Indianapolis.