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State Board Approves ISTEP+ Bonus Points, Sends Diploma Proposal Back to Committee
Updated November 4, 2015 1:32 PM | Filed under: Education
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(INDIANAPOLIS) - The Indiana State Board of Education made two key decisions during its regular business meeting on Wednesday in Indianapolis.

The Board voted unanimously to refer a proposal for new high school diplomas to a task force and approved the addition of bonus points for students on the 2014-15 ISTEP+ exam to offset the difference in difficulty between the online and paper versions of the test.

The Board approved a resolution by Dr. Steve Yager, At-Large Member appointed by the Senate, to refer the proposed changes to Indiana's high school diploma requirements to a new task force created by the Department of Education for further work. The resolution requests the task force to clarify certain aspects of the proposals and provide course descriptions of new required courses, maintain flexibility of students to take electives, rename the proposed diplomas, reinstate the option of a general diploma, and provide an impact study on the effect the proposed changes would have on local school budgets and operations. The resolution also expresses the Board's support for the Indiana General Assembly to pass a law requiring all high schools to offer all diploma options to eligible students. The updated diploma proposal would return to the Board for consideration by April 1, 2016.

"The subcommittee did tremendous work getting these proposals to this point," said Dr. Yager. "As this process moves forward, I look forward to addressing many of the concerns voiced by parents, teachers and educators, and refining these proposals to ensure all Hoosier students leave high school with the skills and credentials needed to succeed throughout their life."

The Board also approved recommendations by the State's outside assessment experts that would add bonus points to student scores to offset differences in difficulty between the online and paper versions of the 2014-15 ISTEP+ test. The experts concluded the tests were different in terms of difficulty. The addition of one to nine bonus points, depending on the student's method of testing, would offset the differences and provide a fair and equal test scores for all Hoosier students.

"As many teachers and educators have said since last spring, it appeared the online and paper ISTEP+ tests were not equal in difficulty," said Lee Ann Kwiatkowski, 9th District representative. "By adding bonus points to student scores, we are ensuring that every student is treated equally, regardless of the method in which they took the test."

The Board also approved more than $25 million in loan requests from traditional public school corporations for new construction and technology, approved the creation of a new Advanced Placement Computer Science Course, and received an update from the Department of Education on the performance of its turnaround academies.

The next meeting of the State Board of Education will take place on Wednesday, December 2, 2015 in the Indiana Government Center South - Conference Room B at 9:00 a.m.

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