Governor Pence Releases ISTEP Recommendations

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WOWO): Governor Mike Pence has released a 26 page report detailing recomendations to shorten the 2015 ISTEP test.

In the report, 11 recommendations were made by the consultants at Edward Roeber and Billy Auty. Some of those changes include not releasing open-ended items, suspending the social studies portion of the test, aligning the math portion to Indiana standards, removing vertical scaling items from on-line assessments, and the state should seek external guidance if the state decides to select a new vendor in the future.

Governor Pence said the report provides insights to be considered regarding the 2016 ISTEP+ test.

The full recommendations, exactly from the report are as follows:


Recommendation 1: The Department should not release the open-ended (OE) items used in the 2015 ISTEP+ and the 2016 ISTEP+ programs. Instead, we recommend the releases of example items that are highly similar to the OE items. We recommend the OE item release policy be restored once the state has a sufficient pool of items for use in the assessment in the future. It is our hope that this will be for the 2016 ISTEP+ program, but that decision should await analysis of the results of the 2015 administration to determine if the item pool is large enough to build assessments for 2016, 2017 and beyond.

Recommendation 2: IDOE should administer some parts of the 2015 ISTEP+ to only a sample of students being tested this year.

Recommendation 3: The Social Studies portion of the test should be suspended for one year.

Recommendation 4: IDOE should identify now which 2015 ISTEP+ mathematics and ELA test items best align to the Indiana standards.

Recommendation 5: IDOE should identify the assessment design and anticipated testing time for the 2016 ISTEP+ program and release this information publicly this spring to demonstrate that the testing time issues this year are a one-time event.

<strong> Recommendation 6: We recommend that vertical scaling items be removed from the 2015 online assessments.

In addition to our recommendations for immediate implementation, we also made longer-term recommendations regarding the operation of the ISTEP+ program by the Indiana Department of Education with support and oversight from the Indiana State Board of Education. The focus of these recommendations is to improve the ISTEP+ program in 2016 and beyond. These recommendations are based on best practices in measurement and large-scale assessment. For each recommendation, we also provided the rationale and a summary of the additional work needed to implement these recommendations. We made recommendations in five areas:

Determining Test Length for 2016 and Beyond
Technical Assistance (Both TAC and Operational Support)
Test Blueprint as a Planning and Communication Document
Transition Planning
Improving Agency Communication


Recommendation 7: Based on the results of 2015 tests, IDOE should investigate the feasibility of shortening the ISTEP+ tests in 2016 and beyond.

Recommendation 8: We recommend that Indiana establish a technical advisory committee that includes individuals who have specific expertise to provide technical advice to the SBOE and IDOE. We also recommend that IDOE establish a standing Indiana assessment advisory committee.

Recommendation 9: We recommend that IDOE develop test specifications and blueprint documents for the 2015 and 2016 versions of ISTEP+ as soon as possible.

Recommendation 10: We recommend that Indiana (the SBOE and IDOE) seek external assistance to guide the transition of the ISTEP+ and other assessment components, should the state select new vendors for any of its assessment components.

Recommendation 11: We recommend that the SBOE and IDOE review inter-agency communication, both at the state level and with local school corporations and that both agencies commit to improvement being made to ensure the best possible assessment system for students, educators, parents and citizens of Indiana.