State Ed. Board Considers Testing In First Meeting Since Shakeup

Jun 3, 2015

Reappointed board member Sarah O’Brien and new board member Byron Ernest at the June State Board of Education meeting.
Credit Rachel Morello / StateImpact Indiana

The State Board of Education met Wednesday for the first time since half the board’s members were replaced and spent the day focused on testing.

When it comes to student assessments, there are a few to choose from. There’s of course the end of year test, the ISTEP, which assesses what a student retained over the entire school year. There’s also formative testing: shorter tests periodically administered throughout the year so a teacher can gauge how their students are grasping specific concepts.

In Indiana, most schools use Acuity or NWEA. But only the Acuity test is paid for by the state.

If a school district wants to use another test beside the state-provided one, they must pay for it out-of-pocket.

Wednesday, the state board of education discussed how new legislation will change that. Rather than the state paying for one test for all schools, they will start giving schools access to state funds so they can choose their own test.

Board member and elementary school teacher Sarah O’Brien advocated for giving districts a choice in their formative assessment and says it makes sense for today’s students.

“I think that different tests work well for different populations, different curricular styles, different approaches," O'Brien says. "So I think it’s more so that we’re allow schools to use what works for them instead of mandating that there’s a one size fits all that we assume will work for independent pockets of students.”

The board will discuss how much money schools can receive at their July meeting.