Incoming superintendent named to ISTEP panel

Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp.’s next superintendent has been selected by Gov. Mike Pence to serve on a statewide review panel to determine the future of Indiana’s standardized testing practices.

The governor’s office announced Friday that Jim Roberts, who is finishing his nine-year tenure as superintendent of Batesville Community School Corp., has been selected to serve on the 23-member ISTEP review panel.

The Bartholomew Consolidated School Board selected Roberts to replace current superintendent John Quick, who is retiring at the end of June.

The ISTEP review panel, which consists of teachers, administrators, parents and other education stakeholders, will study new ways to administer a statewide standardized test in Indiana after the ISTEP exam is phased out.

“Today we take an important step towards moving away from ISTEP to create a shorter, more reliable test,” Pence said in a statement. “This dynamic slate of education experts and stakeholders … will take the lead in developing the next iteration of assessment and accountability for our schools.”

Roberts said he was contacted directly by Pence’s office and asked if he had an interest in serving on the panel, and was then interviewed over the phone to get an idea of his vision for Indiana’s standardized testing procedure.

In an ideal world, Roberts said he would like to see the state adopt an exam that is more efficient, both in the time it takes students to complete the test and in the time it takes for schools to get their results.

He said he would like the exam to be administered earlier in the year to establish a baseline of where students are when they begin a school year. The test could then be re-administered multiple times throughout the year to measure student growth, he said.

During his time as the leader of Batesville schools, Roberts said the southeastern Indiana school district has consistently shown results in the top 10 percent of the state.

In 2014, 88.8 percent of all Batesville students passed both the English/language arts and math portions of the exam, compared to the statewide average of 74.7 percent.

Although ISTEP scores plummeted statewide in 2015, Batesville’s scores still exceeded the statewide average — 64.5 percent of the school corporation’s students passed both parts of the exam, compared to 53.5 percent across the state.

Even though he has never served on a state panel before, Roberts said he has worked directly with Pence to discuss some of the initiatives the superintendent launched in Batesville schools, such as the district’s focus on training students for careers in advanced manufacturing.

The 23-member panel will meet through the summer and fall of 2017 and will give its recommendations to Pence and the General Assembly by Dec. 1.

Other nominees to the panel

Gov. Mike Pence’s nominees to the ISTEP review panel include:

  • Nicole Fama, principal of Indianapolis Public School #93, who will serve as the panel leader
  • Jim Roberts, incoming Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. superintendent
  • Chuck Weisenbach, principal of Roncalli High School in Indianapolis
  • Brent Freeman, special education officer for Indianapolis Public Schools
  • Michelle McKeown, assistant professor of education studies at Depauw University

Other members include:

  • Glenda Ritz, superintendent of public instruction, and four members appointed by her
  • Steve Braun, commissioner of workforce development
  • Teresa Lubbers, commissioner of higher education
  • Sen. Dennis Kruse, chair of the Senate Education & Career Development Committee
  • Rep. Robert Boehning, chair of the Indiana House Education Committee
  • One member of the State Board of Education
  • Four members appointed by Senate President Pro-tem David Long
  • Four members appointed by House Speaker Brian Bosma
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Olivia Covington is a reporter for The Republic. She can be reached at ocovington@therepublic.com or 812-379-5712.