The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, March 03, 2021 1:00 am

School chiefs want ILEARN canceled

FWCS among those citing unusual year in bid to call off test

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

Almost 40 northeast Indiana school district superintendents, including all four from Allen County, are asking state leaders to stop spring standardized testing.

Being required to administer the ILEARN assessment is particularly worrisome for Fort Wayne Community Schools, which has about 31% remote-only students, Superintendent Mark Daniel said Tuesday during his monthly Facebook Live update.

“To meet the national guidelines of norm-referenced testing,” Daniel said, explaining that's what ILEARN is, “you have to have 95% of your students taking the test.”

Daniel and 38 other superintendents Monday sent a joint letter about their concerns to officials including Gov. Eric Holcomb and Katie Jenner, the Indiana secretary of education.

FWCS shared the letter with The Journal Gazette.

The superintendents outlined the conditions districts are facing, virtual and hybrid learning models, remote students' refusal to come to school for other testing, and the extra time that will be needed to administer ILEARN.

“At a minimum, ILEARN will pull students away from critical instruction and skill development for anywhere from 8-12 days for each student,” the superintendents wrote. “This would have an even larger negative impact in a year where student learning has already been greatly disrupted.”

Student and staff quarantines also could compromise the ability to assess students, the superintendents wrote, noting licensed teachers are required to proctor the test.

“Factoring in the additional time needed for makeup testing due to higher COVID absenteeism because of these quarantines, we are not confident that ILEARN can even be completed during the testing window,” the y added.

As an alternative to ILEARN, the superintendents wrote, they could share data from local assessments given this spring – a move they assert would also save the state millions.

“Each of our school districts has data for our students going back several years, which allows us to analyze each student's growth and progress, as well as to compare their achievement to established norms,” they wrote.

The superintendents were awaiting a response from state leaders Tuesday, Daniel said.

Meanwhile, he said, FWCS is discussing how to test virtual students. A potential solution involves remote-only students coming to school on a day in-person students are told to stay home.

“We will do that for our parents and our students if the state continues to say, 'You know what, we hear you but we're still going to require you to take ILEARN,'” he said.

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