Holcomb seeks penalty delay for low scores

INDIANAPOLIS — Gov. Eric Holcomb is calling on Indiana lawmakers to delay consequences for schools after the state learned ILEARN scores dropped compared to the previously administered ISTEP+ test.

ILEARN, which measures student achievement and growth through Indiana Academic Standards, was first administered this spring to students in grades 3-8 as a remedy to the ISTEP+ test, an assessment that, for years, garnered low results and took students several hours to complete.

The results of the 2018-19 ILEARN test are scheduled to be released Sept. 4 at the State Board of Education meeting. Schools have already received the results. Holcomb said in a statement Monday that the results show a decrease compared to the previous ISTEP+ test.

He asked State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick to support his request that lawmakers take action to “hold schools harmless” so the test scores do not affect teacher evaluations or schools’ letter grades for the 2018-19 school year. This was also done in 2014-15 when scores dropped after the state introduced a redesigned ISTEP+ test.

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“This action will ease the transition to ILEARN, which is a student assessment that allows Indiana to comply with federal (Every Student Succeeds Act) requirements,” Holcomb said in the statement.

McCormick confirmed the drop in scores in a statement Monday.

“When compared to past ISTEP+ scores, the scores for Indiana’s new assessment, ILEARN, indicated lower achievement levels across the state in both English/language arts and mathematics,” McCormick said.

She said the scores are a result of the combination of a more rigorous college and career readiness assessment, national normative data and the defined established performance cuts. Although the lower scores are frustrating, McCormick said performance dips at some level were expected, similar to the onset of new ISTEP+ test in 2014-15.

McCormick said she will share more detailed information and specific actions she has already requested at a scheduled press conference Wednesday in Indianapolis.

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ILEARN scores will be made public Sept. 4 at the Indiana State Board of Education meeting.

The meeting is at 9 a.m. in the Indiana Government Center South Auditorium, 302 W. Washington St. in Indianapolis.