"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was and never will be...nor can they be safe with them without information. Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe." – Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Look! Something Shiny!


Look, it's a shiny New Improved! Test guaranteed to distract you from the dirty, faded, ISTEP+ test that cost the state billion$ and never really worked.

The ISTEP+ is gone (or at least, it will be...soon...um, maybe), and the supermajority in the state legislature, composed almost exclusively of non-educators, will choose which standardized student achievement test to misuse next.

Hours of work, funded by taxpayer dollars, will result in the students of Indiana again being threatened by taking a new standardized test developed to measure student achievement.

When the New Improved! Test is put in place everyone will be happy, school children will smile (no more throwing up on test booklets!), teachers and administrators will breathe a collective sigh of relief, and "reformers" can continue working toward their goal of privatizing education in Indiana.


But there's a blemish beneath the surface of the shiny New Improved! Test.

It will be misused, just like ISTEP+ was misused.

The New Improved! Test will immediately be misused in at least four ways.
  • It will be misused to grade the state's K-12 schools and school corporations using a flawed A to F grading scale. Student achievement tests are developed to measure student achievement, not schools. Prediction: The New Improved! Test will determine that schools which choose students from wealthy homes will be graded "A." "F" schools will get the students from high poverty areas. Coincidentally, communities which house "F" schools will also be labeled as "failing."
  • It will be misused to make high stakes decisions affecting students. The New Improved! Test won't be able to measure creativity, determination, perspective, intuition, honesty, courage, perseverance, thoroughness, flexibility, fluency, originality, elaboration, confidence, self-control, curiosity, or wisdom, but it will still give "valuable information" about student placement. Some students will still lose their schools to "state takeover." Consistent education will be disrupted. Students will lose a complete curriculum and focus only on Reading and STEM.
  • It will be misused to evaluate teachers. Student achievement tests are developed to measure student achievement, not evaluate teachers. Prediction: The New Improved! Test will determine that high poverty schools are filled with ineffective teachers. Effective teachers apparently only choose low poverty schools.
  • It will be misused to prove that public schools are "failing." Prediction: Charter schools (even those which get D or F on the grading scale) and private schools will be the only hope for the children of Indiana. There will be no reason to invest in public education. Instead, more charters will need to be opened. More voucher money will be allocated. More public schools will be labeled "failing" and then closed.
The Indiana Senate, run by a supermajority of "reformers," has agreed to eliminate ISTEP+, but public schools will continue to be damaged, public school students will continue to be labeled and shortchanged in their education, public school teachers will continue to be vilified, and corporate "reform" will continue without pause.

Thank you, New Improved! Test, for doing exactly what ISTEP+ did to improve education in Indiana. Nothing.

Oh, and until the New Improved! Test is chosen, approved, and implemented, ISTEP+ will still be misused in the same old way.

Senate agrees to eliminate ISTEP
The legislation creates a 22-member panel to study alternatives and make recommendations to the governor and the General Assembly this December. Some things the panel must consider are the feasibility of using existing national tests, reducing the time and costs associated with the test and transparency and fairness.

Rep. Robert Behning, R-Indianapolis, the author of the bill, said he doesn’t like how the Senate narrowed the scope of the panel to only testing instead of overall accountability systems for teachers, schools and students.

He also noted he doesn’t agree with putting testing experts directly on the panel.

A conference committee is a small group of legislators from both sides of the aisle appointed to hammer out a final compromise.

Another sticking point with Democrats is that GOP lawmakers have made Democratic Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz a member of the committee – but not the chair. Gov. Mike Pence would appoint the chair.


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