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Superintendents, businesses criticize new state test

NOW: Superintendents, businesses criticize new state test

GOSHEN, Ind. - Fallout continues over the new statewide ILEARN test. Late Friday, some business leaders in Elkhart County jumped into the discussion saying they have some major concerns.

You wouldn’t think businesses like Mapletronics would be majorly impacted by a test your kids take, but in Goshen, this business along with superintendents in the county rallied together to tell the state ‘we want a better test.’

“Students aren’t necessarily ready,” Wes Herschberger, the CEO of Mapletronics, said. He’s talking about his potential workforce.

“Not necessarily understanding how to engage in a team environment. Not necessarily understanding how to work on complex problems instead of a mono-type of straight work 1 plus 1 straight type of thing,” Herschberger said.

ILEARN test results for 2019 were publicly released days ago and are troubling.

Statewide they were down more than 10 percentage points from ISTEP to ILEARN. In Elkhart, it about the same at almost 12 percentage points lower. In Goshen, the difference is less at 7 percentage points.

Brian Wiebe, the President of Horizon Education Alliance said it’s not just ILEARN’s low scores that is the problem.

“Mostly it’s just a disconnect between an assessment and even what our state is saying that they want our students to know and learn,” Wiebe said. “It doesn’t measure job readiness or many of the other things like employability skills that we know our businesses care a lot about.”

The other side of the issue comes from schools.

“When you’re always moving the metric on the test, we don’t have time in our curriculum to devote to what the kids do truly need because we are trying to hit that new metric,” Scott Croner, the Superintendent for Wa-Nee Community Schools, said.

He said it’s just not fair.

“If we don’t hit that metric then the accountability on the school, the accountability on the teacher, him or herself is detrimental because these tests are all aligned to the teacher's evaluation,” Croner said.

That’s why many are waiting for Indiana’s General Assembly to decide on Governor Holcomb’s proposal of “hold harmless,” a one year delay in reporting the grades.

One State Senator tells me she agrees that legislation should pass.

“It would delay any of the issues as far as any of the grading system,” Senator Linda Rogers (R) said. “The teacher appreciation grants that are an important part. All teachers are looking forward to hopefully being a top-notch teacher and getting those grants. Certainly, you wouldn’t want to lose that opportunity.

Many of the superintendents and businesses who were at the press conference today said this test just doesn’t work, but when it comes to a solution, well, that’s up in the air.

The educators and business leaders who gathered at the press conference Friday said an entirely new test to incorporate job readiness skills is what is really needed across the state, to replace the new ILEARN exams.

But Rogers said that kind of change needs to wait.

“I think before anyone would transition to anything new, we would really have to evaluate and make sure it would be the right step. I think that’s the most important because we can’t just keep changing things,” she said.

At this point, a collaboration between businesses and educators is one thing they know needs to happen.

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