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Indiana Parents Urge More Transparent, Consistent Standardized Testing

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Thursday, July 15, 2021   

INDIANAPOLIS -- Results from Indiana's standardized test, ILEARN, were released this week, and just 28% of students passed the math and reading portions.

The state went on with standardized testing in the spring, even with many students learning in hybrid classrooms or all-remote. The results won't be used against schools in state or federal funding formulas this year, but they may be used to target education recovery resources.

Rachel Burke, president of the Indiana Parent Teacher Association (PTA), noted with fewer hours in the classroom for most students, there were pushes to teach content rather than specific standardized test-taking skills.

"To be quite frank, a lot of schools spend a good week or two, the month before the test, really hitting hard," Burke acknowledged. "That did not happen this year, particularly with so many schools being shut down."

Burke is the parent of an eighth grader, and she said to get more information about the test, she had to meet with a school administrator in person. She added the PTA supports summative assessments, but she thinks they need to be more transparent and consistent.

Burke pointed out ILEARN has only been around for a short time. Previously, the state test was called ISTEP.

"Indiana has played standard and assessment roulette for many, many years now, right?" Burke recounted. "We've had several sets of standards, we've had several different assessments. Every time you change one of those two things, you throw the other one off."

Burke added it's an issue of equity. In past years, Indiana's test results have shown racial disparities. White students passed the ILEARN test at higher rates than Black, brown and Indigenous students, according to the most recent data.

She stated without more transparent information about the tests, it's harder to reduce educational disparities.


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