Don Lehe column sig

The 2020 session crossed the halfway mark last week. Senate bills now make their way to the House for consideration, and House bills head to the Senate.

House Republicans made significant progress on our top priorities, including passing legislation to hold teachers and schools harmless from ILEARN results, decouple teacher performance evaluations from student test scores, and provide flexibility in teacher training and licensure requirements.

At the urging of parents and teachers across the state to get rid of the ISTEP test, Indiana switched to ILEARN. The new standardized exam, required by federal law to receive certain funding, is taken on the computer by students in grades 3 through 8 to gauge achievement in various subjects.

The test is adaptive and questions increase or decrease in difficulty depending on a student’s level of proficiency.

As was expected with transitioning to this new format, test scores for most schools across the state were lower. To give students, educators and schools more time to adapt to the new exam, I supported legislation to hold teachers and schools harmless for test results in 2019 and 2020.

This bill passed both the House and the Senate, and is awaiting the governor’s signature to become law.

Another bill making its way through the process would remove the requirement that standardized test scores significantly inform teacher evaluations and pay.

There are many ways to measure student learning, and local school districts know best when it comes to evaluating the strengths of their teachers and their effectiveness in the classroom.

Under this proposal, which passed the House with unanimous support, local school districts would have more flexibility in how to use test results when evaluating teacher performance.

Staying on the topic of local control, another bill headed to the Senate would empower local school districts to identify which education laws and requirements are unnecessarily burdensome. They could then apply for a waiver with the State Board of Education to lift certain state mandates.

Since the needs of young Hoosiers are constantly growing and changing, it is important schools have the flexibility to identify which state education requirements will best serve their students.

This legislation would also revise a recent law regarding one of four teacher licensure renewal options.

With one option, teachers can develop a Professional Growth Plan and earn 90 points or hours over five years. Under this bill, 15 of those points could be earned through professional development related to their community’s workforce needs, but would not be required.

Education is a top priority, and it is good to see these important proposals on track to become laws.

If you have any questions about these bills or others, please reach out to my office by emailing h25@iga.in.gov or calling 317-232-9600.

To follow legislation and watch session and committee hearings live, visit iga.in.gov.

State Rep. Don Lehe (R-Brookston) represents House District 25, which includes portions of Carroll, Cass, Clinton, Tippecanoe and White counties.