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Ritz: ISTEP Modifications Needed To Maintain NCLB Waiver

Posted On June 05, 2014

By Mike Perleberg

(Indianapolis, Ind.) – A new ISTEP+ test will be required in 2015 – a year earlier than planned – if Indiana wants to keep intact its waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Because of the waiver, Indiana largely decides on its own how to use $200 million in Title I federal education funding. Last month, the U.S. Department of Education notified the state that the waiver first issued in 2012 was at risk of being rescinded.

The Indianapolis Star reports that Indiana State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz told the state Board of Education on Wednesday that the USDOE wants the state to implement a new ISTEP+ standardized test for the 2015-2016 school year.

Among the changes sought in the exam, it will have to reflect new math and English standards adopted by the state earlier this year following Indiana’s opt-out of national Common Core education standards. The test would also have to go away from multiple choice answers and instead ask students to write out their answers.

Ritz, a Democrat who chairs the largely Republican State Board of Education, suggested suspending for one year the state’s school rating system and the use of test scores in teacher evaluations.

Some board members indicated it may not be worth controlling the $200 million from the federal government if it means all the trouble of altering the ISTEP+ on relatively short notice could bring.

The state superintendent said she will prepare a response to the USDOE by June 20 on how the state will address its waiver status. The state board will meet again to discuss the response before Ritz submits it to the USDOE by the June 30 deadline.

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