Educational reform

The delayed results of the ISTEP+ tests have certainly been a source of angst in the education community as of late.

Between delayed test results and the testing company refusing to allow educators and administrators the opportunity to be an advocate for a student’s questionable test results, it is no wonder this dispute is causing a quandary of sizable proportions.

As I taught a lesson the other day in class, my lesson plan noted, “may show up on the ISTEP test.” Sadly, as much as I have fought it over the years, I, too, have joined the ranks and fallen into the trap of teaching-to-the-test.

Is this what we want for our Hoosier students? Are parents and educators around our state truly asking for our children to learn to demonstrate their abilities by how well they can take a test. Is this why high schools now offer courses on “How to take SAT/ACT tests” and educators give practice test questions throughout the year? To help prepare students to perform well on the all-important single test which will determine not only how proficient a student is in his achievements, but also measures how effective their teacher and school is? Is this what we truly expect from education reform?

I believe we expect something which is more valuable than what many from within our legislative body have enacted over the past years. Our lawmakers must re-evaluate their justification in requiring ISTEP testing. If it truly comes down to money from the federal government, then we have played into the political hands which so many in our GOP legislative body insist on resisting.

Of course, other statements have continued to be touted. “Indiana’s ISTEP tests reflect uniquely rigorous academic standards which made this custom-made test necessary.” Not true!

The controversial Indiana Standards reflect incredulous similarities to the Common Core Standards of 2014. Politics continue to play the upper-hand when it comes to our children’s education. This past year, McGraw-Hill was awarded a contract worth tens of millions of taxpayer dollars for our ISTEP testing — and, the test as well as its final results (which we have yet to obtain) are worthless. Administrators and parents could not even gain access to a student’s test this past week and the window has now closed for any re-scoring requests.

Yes, our Hoosier children deserve the best. As with most states across our nation, a substantial portion of the state’s budget is dedicated to education.

Why is it, then, we allow many law-making individuals with a lack of educational qualifications to continue to make the legislative decisions on how best to evaluate the students’ instruction, and implement legislative actions which have caused more chaos and grief than served as a response which is beneficial to the entire educational process in our state?

Their idea of educational reform is not working. It is time for a transformation which truly reflects Hoosier educational values and expectations.

Seymour resident Nancy Franke is an educator at St. Peter’s Lutheran School in Columbus and a member of the Seymour Community School Corp. board. Send comments to [email protected].