By Shelby Mullis
INDIANAPOLIS — After legislators voted to prevent the low 2015 ISTEP scores from negatively affecting educators, the overall 2016 scores for grades three through eight are lower than before.
The 2016 test was the second year with the more rigorous standards. The 2015 scores serve as a baseline, according to the Indiana Department of Education.
For the first time, the test was administered by a new vendor, a change that the Indiana Department of Education said impacts students and teachers as they take the test. Teachers and students need several years to get accustomed to the new standards and assessments.
“Today’s results reflect Indiana’s focus on student progress towards more rigorous benchmarks for college and career readiness,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz said in a statement. “However, it is important to remember that our students, schools and teachers are more than just a test score.”
In 2016, 66.1 percent of students statewide in grades three through eight passed the English/language arts section, a 1.2 percentage point decrease from the year before.
In the mathematics section, 58.9 percent passed, down 2.1 percentage points.
Meanwhile, 51.6 percent of students statewide passed both sections, a drop of 1.9 percentage points.
ISTEP has been in turmoil in recent years. Lawmakers voted to replace the test with a new assessment by 2018. A panel is working to find an alternative and is expected to announce recommendations on Nov. 29.
A bill signed by Gov. Mike Pence in January prohibited the 2015 scores from unfavorably affecting a teacher’s evaluation, pay or bonuses as well as a school’s A-F accountability grade, but the 2016 scores do count unless state leaders intervene again.
Shelby Mullis is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.