Parents and teachers have been complaining about Indiana’s state testing, called ISTEP. But now David Rutter chimes in to support them in a scathing column printed in the Chicago Tribune. The state tests are worthless, he says, and Indiana is a national joke because of handing control of education over to politicians.



Public education. Sorry. We apparently can’t do that in Indiana. It’s too hard. And it’s even worse. Not only might Hoosiers parents fret if their public schools are any good, even basic student competence can’t be tested because Indiana can’t figure out a useful academic test.


It’s all too hard.


The yearlong embarrassing battle over ISTEP is not merely recreational political fisticuffs. It cost the state $65 million to produce an off-the-cuff test that measures nothing verifiable. Public school teachers who put their 400,000 students through the 12-hour torture are not even sure what the test was supposed to measure….


If the test were accurate, the state’s entire student body went from marginally intelligent to totally dumb in one year.


Don’t worry, though. The state now acknowledges this test was pointless. It’s not even apparent what the point was supposed to be.


The idea that any one test can measure 400,000 unique, distinct young human minds seems preposterous on its face….



Indiana misplaced the point of public education. It’s about children.


When schools are transformed into partisan political war zones, predictable devolution always damages the higher good.


The Indiana Legislature has decided its function is to punish bad schools and bad teachers by taking money and resources away from the spendthrift offenders. Of course, holding resources hostage hardly ever makes a school better.


As occurred this week when 2015 ISTEP results were revealed tardily, the effect is a statewide battery of badly designed tests mandated by amateurs whose only knowledge of public education is the instinct to impose “accountability…..”
Here’s a short chronology on how we reached this particular disaster:


1: First, Gov. Mike Pence ditches the reviled Common Core standards and orders “Indiana-specific” standards that are remarkably similar. And do it now.


2: Then he does not give state educators enough lead-time to write the standards and pilot-study the resulting test. ISAT is not a pop quiz. The state has constructed a test that students must study for weeks to take.


3: Then he fails to realize until it’s too late that changing tests on the fly blows up the testing process and create a large, ugly ripple in every state classroom. It’s the sort of misjudgment that amateurs make.


4: Then, finally, he grasps his favorite political excuse by blaming Superintendent of Public Education Glenda Ritz for a botch that mostly is beyond her control but clearly within Pence’s realm. She warned him. He ignored her.


At its intellectual heart, Statehouse denizens just played a $65 million joke on Indiana taxpayers, parents, teachers and students.


It seems that Indiana’s political leaders want to destroy public education and drive students into charters and voucher schools. The testing mess may have been part of that plan, or I may be crediting them with more forethought and calculation than they can muster.