Local educators agree with state leaders’ call for hold harmless as ILEARN results loom

Southern Indiana educators agree with state leaders’ call for hold harmless as ILEARN results loom

CLARKSVILLE, Ind. (WAVE) – Students in the Hoosier state last spring all sat down to take a new kind of assessment test, ILEARN, leaving their traditional test, ISTEP, behind.

Now, concerns about big drops in students passing that new test have many educators concerned.

Those scores directly impact your child’s school rating. It’s causing concern around the state, so much so that Governor Holcomb is getting involved.

It may feel like the start of the school year, but here in Clarksville and around the state, educators are worrying about a test from the spring when students took the ILEARN test for the very first time.

“We obviously have an idea of what it’s going to look like for us,” said Brian Allred, Principal at Renaissance Academy in Clarksville and testing coordinator for Clarksville schools. “We’re very interested in seeing how the state as a whole is going to respond.”

After decades with ISTEP, ILEARN is different in measuring student growth and learning, designed to be an improvement. But preparing students without knowing much about the test proved tough.

“We really didn’t get a lot of guidance on what that might mean and what that might really look like,” Allred said.

It measures year-to-year growth and material mastery.

The test isn’t graded, so students may not try. Results from the assessment determine a school’s rating, making the results invaluable.

ILEARN test results from Clarksville and around the state of Indiana will be released Sept. 4.

Many people around the state are concerned about a big drop to the scores and accountability for school districts when those scores are released, and it’s got many people calling for a hold to those accountability grades, including Gov. Eric Holcomb.

Holcomb offered the following statement regarding the 2018-19 ILEARN results:

"The results of the 2018-19 ILEARN proficiency test are scheduled to be released next week. The results will show a decrease compared to the previously administered ISTEP+ test. Since this is the first year of the ILEARN assessment, I will ask Superintendent McCormick to support my request that the General Assembly take action to hold schools harmless so the test scores do not have an adverse impact on teacher evaluations and schools’ letter grades for the 2018-19 school year. This action will ease the transition to ILEARN, which is a student assessment that allows Indiana to comply with federal ESSA requirements.

I appreciate the dedicated work of Hoosier educators. Bringing consistency and continuity to how we measure student progress and preparing students for post-secondary success is a shared and important goal."

“There’s something in that data that is saying, ‘Let’s take a minute, let’s take a deep breath, let’s see what’s really going on and what we need to do,’” Allred said.

If lawmakers approve pausing school rating impacts for this year, Allred said it will give schools time to learn from the results without penalty, giving them the time to better prepare students for the next test and their futures.

“That’s why I think it’s a wise decision,” Allred said. “They see there’s something there. We need to figure out what is that something and moving forward, how can we address it?”

Statement from Dr. Jennifer McCormick, Superintendent of Public Instruction on ILEARN:

“During the past two weeks, districts and schools received embargoed ILEARN scores. 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. The combination of the rigors associated with this newly aligned college and career readiness assessment, national normative data, and the defined established performance cuts all contributed to the lower performance levels. While frustrating, performance dips at some level were expected. ILEARN scores will be made public at the September 4 State Board of Education meeting. The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) will advocate for legislative action addressing the negative impact on educators, schools, districts, and communities. In addition, IDOE will continue to advocate for a new, modernized, state-legislated accountability system that is fair, accurate, and transparent.”

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