Pence signs executive order to ‘substantially shorten’ ISTEP+ test

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INDIANAPOLIS (Feb. 9, 2015) – Gov. Mike Pence says he was “stunned” to learn that the ISTEP+ test would take students twice as long to take as the previous year.

During a news conference Monday, Pence said he would sign an executive order to shorten the test. He said the length of the test was a byproduct of “dysfunction” within the Indiana State Board of Education and cited a “frustrating lack of transparency” regarding the test.

“Doubling the length of the 2015 ISTEP test is unacceptable and requires an immediate solution,” said Governor Pence. “As soon as I learned of this issue, I vowed to support efforts to shorten the test while preserving the accountability that Hoosier students and families deserve.”

Pence noted that parents and teachers were “stunned and outraged” by the length of the test.

“There’s no reason the ISTEP+ test should take twice as long as previous tests,” he told reporters Monday.

The governor plans to consult education experts to find ways to substantially shorten the test. He said the executive order came after consultation with the legislature, adding that the test has to be fixed and that a decision to do so had to come immediately.

Below is a table depicting the length of time expected for the 2015 ISTEP test:

Grade 2014 Online/Paper Operational Total Time 2015 Online/Paper Operational Total Time Change in Total Time from 2014 to 2015
3 5 hours, 9 minutes 12 hours, 30 minutes 7 hours, 21 minutes
4 5 hours, 9 minutes 11 hours, 55 minutes 6 hours, 46 minutes
5 5 hours, 9 minutes 11 hours, 32 minutes 6 hours, 23 minutes
6 5 hours, 9 minutes 11 hours, 40 minutes 6 hours, 31 minutes
7 5 hours, 9 minutes 11 hours, 47 minutes 6 hours, 38 minutes
8 5 hours, 9 minutes 11 hours, 15 minutes 6 hours, 6 minutes

“We grade students every day in Indiana. We should be willing to grade schools once every year,” said the Governor. “Our administration is committed to maintaining accountability within our schools and ensuring the best possible education for each and every Hoosier child.”

Sen. President Pro Tem David Long issued a statement saying he agreed with the governor’s decision:

“I fully support Gov. Pence’s actions today to seek a solution to the ISTEP+ testing problems that have come to light in recent days. Doubling the amount of time needed to administer the spring assessments is unacceptable for our kids and our schools. We must find a way to shorten the test in a manner that maintains our school accountability system and best serves Hoosier students.

“It is inconceivable that the Indiana Department of Education has allowed the situation to get to this point without making other stakeholders, including the members of the State Board of Education, aware of the concerns involved. If the Board had been included in these discussions, we might have been able to avoid this situation. However, it appears that the Board of Education has been shut out of the process. As a result, our A-F accountability system has been put at risk, and our children are facing hours of additional testing. Today’s emergency actions by the Governor are necessary and appropriate. This situation also underscores the importance of Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 1609, both of which are designed to improve the effectiveness of the Board of Education for the sake of all Hoosier school children.”

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