Northwest Indiana Superintendent Letter to the Indiana General Assembly and State Board of Education
Indiana is broken up into “districts” by the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents. As the Superintendent of Porter Township I fall into District I (most of northwest Indiana does, too). As a group, we often meet with legislators. If you ask me about critical issues in public education that need to be addressed immediately, there are two main items. One is finding a new way to assess students (one that doesn’t spend enormous amounts of money, take an extreme amount of time to give, and then not provide teachers with usable data) and the second is what to do with the results from our current failing assessment system. Indiana again is failing to address these issues in a timely fashion. Indiana is forgetting that we are all about the kids–and about doing what is best for every student. To that end, the District I Superintendents crafted a letter. I have included it below as I think it provides a snapshot into these two issues we are currently facing.
Honorable Members of the Indiana General Assembly and Members of the State Board of Education:
The superintendents of Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents (IAPSS) District I School Corporations want to make you aware of some serious concerns we have regarding the status and use of the current assessment system in Indiana. While we are firmly committed to accountability at every level, we believe the high stakes ISTEP+ assessment system that is used to measure student achievement, evaluate teacher performance and effectiveness, and grade our schools, does not accurately reflect the teaching and learning that takes place every day in our public schools.
Whether the state continues to mandate ISTEP+ or a similar test by a different name, the use of a one-time test does not and cannot accurately reflect the achievement and growth of our students, the performance of our teachers and quality of our schools. Our teachers regularly monitor the learning taking place in their classrooms via locally developed and nationally recognized assessments that provide immediate results which are used to drive instruction. Receiving ISTEP+ test results six months – or more – after the test was given is almost useless.
In each of the past two school years, significant changes were made to the current ISTEP+ test. The rush to make these changes, without providing educators ample time to “retool” curriculum and instruction in the classroom, resulted in lower test scores across the state in all tested subjects at all tested grade levels and an unnecessary decline in school and school corporation grades across Indiana.
Inconsistencies within the test itself make it very difficult, if not impossible, to use those test results in a meaningful way. Attempting to compare test scores and passing rates (i.e. student achievement) from one year to the next, especially when the spring 2016 test changed significantly from the previous year, is problematic at best.
For the reasons stated above, we support HEA 1395 that called for the end of ISTEP+ at the end of the 2016-2017 school year. It is extremely disappointing that the committee charged with finding and recommending a replacement for the ISTEP+ fiasco chose not to make a recommendation that would resolve issues associated with our broken and irreparable assessment system. Reportedly, several meaningful options were not allowed to be presented and/or discussed by the committee during their deliberations. If true, such actions are sad and frustrating. Maintaining the status quo with ISTEP+ will only continue to project a tainted and inaccurate assessment of the achievements of our students, teachers and public schools.
If the objective of our state’s high stakes accountability system is to accurately report student achievement to the public, then the data from the currently flawed system must not be used. We respectfully request our elected officials and members of the State Board of Education to ignore the most recent results of the totally broken ISTEP+ assessment and not use them to place letter grades on our schools. The A-F grading system needs to be suspended again and schools need to be provided with a hold harmless provision regarding the results of the 2015-2016 ISTEP+ assessment, similar to what was done last year.
The BGHS Choir’s Madrigal Dinner has officially sold out in 4 days! For anyone who has attended the Madrigal, you know why it sold out! Congratulations to everyone involved in this production as it takes a lot of work and time, but clearly is a tremendous event that is much-loved and anticipated!
Do you have a standout to include in this section? Email PTSC standouts to Dr. Schmidt at email@example.com to make sure your standout is included.
- November 12: Snow Fest Craft Show
- November 16: Online Day BGHS and BGMS
- November 24-25: Thanksgiving Break–No School
- December 21-January 4: Winter Break–No School
- January 13: End of Quarter 2/Semester 1
Things to Know/Do:
- Now hiring a Computer Technician! If you know someone who might be interested, send them to the link above!
- Now hiring substitute teachers! Please contact Linda Dusek at the administration building if you are interested in substitute teaching and she will help you start the application process and discuss qualifications.
- Do your friends and neighbors know how to find our weekly updates? Even if your neighbors don’t have kids in school tell them about our weekly updates so they can hear the great news of what happens at PTSC!
- Every Wednesday is a 30-minute delayed start. If we have a 2-hour delay, students will arrive at school 2 hours after the regular start time for the building.
- We are also looking for bus drivers to drive our extra-curricular runs. If you are interested, please apply online. It’s a great way to earn some money and attend extra-curricular events!