The new ILEARN test is drawing harsh criticism from Knox Community School Superintendent Dr. William Reichhart.
“I really believe that we’re going down the wrong road,” he told the school board Tuesday, “and think about $35 million a year that we’re spending on standardized testing, think if that money would’ve been reallocated for the last 20 years, what we could have done for teacher salaries and other things to make learning opportunities better for students.”
The results of the first ILEARN test were released by the Indiana Department of Education this week. Across the state, scores were down significantly when compared to the old ISTEP.
At Knox Community Schools, just 29 percent of students who took the ILEARN were found to be proficient in both English/Language Arts and Math. Just over a third passed the Science portion of the test, while more than 46 percent passed the Social Studies portion.
Reichhart felt those scores can give the wrong impression about the schools’ effectiveness. “What we’re going to hear is ‘Public education is failing,’ one more time, and I’ll tell you what, our staff and administrators do a lot more that just teach for one test a year,” he told the school board.
In a letter to parents and community members Tuesday, Reichhart criticized the idea of basing a school’s letter grade and a teacher’s evaluation off of the ILEARN. He said the test will never do what it’s designed to do and that teachers already know their students’ abilities before they take the test.
Reichhart added that he’s “totally against this politically motivated and one-type test fits all students.” He went on to say, “We have to stop this testing madness and make it clear to our political leaders that KCSC students, and other Indiana students across the state, deserve better than to be measured by a one-time assessment.”
The Indiana State Board of Education has since agreed to hold off on issuing school letter grades until the General Assembly takes action to hold schools and teachers harmless for the 2019 ILEARN results.