SYRACUSE — For several years, ISTEP+ was sharply criticized as not being a true reflection of how public school students are actually performing in classrooms. Beginning in the spring of 2019, it was replaced by a new state assessment known as ILEARN.
Results of the first ILEARN testing were released publicly Wednesday, Sept. 4, by the Indiana Department of Education and those results were even lower than ISTEP+ on a statewide level. Locally, administrators in the Wawasee Community School Corporation are disappointed.
Wawasee’s results showed less than a 50 percent proficiency in nearly every category, which is not reflective of how students have scored on Northwest Evaluation Association testing, said Joy Goshert, assistant superintendent.
Goshert said Wawasee teachers began looking at information provided by IDOE in spring 2018. “Teachers started using finalized testing blueprints and resources the state provided in the fall when information regarding the assessment was more finalized around mid-October,” she said. “We created a website called WawaseeILEARN for teachers to use that incorporated a number of state documents into one document so that teachers didn’t have to go between multiple documents released by the state when looking at a standard they were teaching to see how the state said the standard would be assessed on ILEARN.”
She added teachers worked hard to familiarize themselves with the expectations of the assessment while they were trying to make sure they were exposing students to how the standards would be assessed on ILEARN.
“It is a shame that Indiana test results don’t reflect what our students learned last year,” Goshert said. “Our NWEA results do not reflect the lower ILEARN results.”
ILEARN has also been criticized elsewhere in the state because, among other reasons, a rescore request time frame was provided before parents or school administrators could access any student’s ILEARN score and setting much higher pass/failure cutoff scores after the testing was concluded.
IDOE has acknowledged in press releases “2019 ILEARN results do not provide a true reflection of the performance of Indiana’s schools.”
Dr. Jennifer McCormick, state superintendent, said IDOE will propose legislative actions including placing a hold harmless year on 2018-19 letter grades, pause intervention timelines for all schools and providing the State Board of Education with emergency rulemaking authority to review and reestablish the state accountability system.
McCormick said ILEARN was designed with a redefined focus on rigorous college and career readiness standards. She noted ILEARN was developed from input provided by more than 1,200 Indiana educators and has a new computer-adaptive format.
She said it is important the state has an accountability system that is fair, accurate and transparent.