Indiana teachers sound off on failing ISTEP test scores - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Indiana teachers sound off on failing ISTEP test scores

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Test results released today show nearly half the students who took Indiana's new ISTEP test failed. Now we're hearing from teachers on what they think went wrong.

Jaime Lampkin is called a "Master Teacher," at Clarksville Middle School. She works one on one with kids to figure out what material they know and then teaches the teachers how to teach it better.

But on Wednesday, when the new ISTEP scores came to light, Lampkin didn't feel like a master.

"I was almost in tears," she said. "It's heartbreaking whenever you feel like you've put your heart and soul into teaching and those are the results that you get."

So goes the story for many educators in Indiana, with faculty saying new teaching materials came late into the year after the state dropped Common Core and rushed out new standards. 

"The standards changed drastically for Math," Lampkin said. "It went from teaching pretty much algorithms, to now they have to understand on a conceptual level: Why does that algorithm work?"

Consider it like this: Education is supposed to act like a triangle -- what you teach, what you learn, what you test, all in equal parts. But in Indiana last year, the shape morphed and Lampkin said staff members didn't know exactly what to teach, so what students learned wasn't on the test.

Troy Albert, a principal and former Indiana Board of Education member, voted in favor of a new ISTEP in 2014.

"Our standards are good standards and our test results will come up," he said.

He also saw the failed rollout as principal of Henryville Jr./Sr. High School.

When asked what went wrong Albert said, "To be honest with you, we always felt rushed as a board in making decisions at the last minute," he said. "But again, as a board, you have to go back to we're following the directive of legislation."

The legislature is rushing once again, trying to pass a law to temper the fallout from the poor results. In Indiana, teachers' merit pay is tied to ISTEP.

We've had teachers in the past...who have made almost $6,000 for that," Lampkin said.

There's no time to dwell on the scores. The next round of testing is only four months away -- and once again schools do not have everything they need. The Indiana Department of Education has not released individual student results yet telling teachers which standards each child mastered or missed on the last ISTEP test. It's critical to shaping future instruction.  

"It would not surprise me if we are in the same situation next year," Lampkin said.

The ultimate question now is whether Indiana will learn from its mistakes.

"There's nothing to do but go up," Lampkin said.

Many Indiana school districts are challenging the latest ISTEP results, asking the state to verify the questions used and the scores.

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