Testimony of Achieve President Michael Cohen to the Indiana House Education Committee

Thursday, April 9, 2015Printer-friendly version

On April 7, 2015, Achieve President Michael Cohen delivered testimony to Indiana’s House Education Committee during its hearing on Senate Bill 566, which would prohibit the state board of education from adopting the Common Core State Standards or an assessment or test produced solely by the U.S. government or a consortium of states. Below is an excerpt of his prepared remarks and a link to the full testimony.


Chairman Behning, members of the Education Committee, I am pleased to have the opportunity to testify before you today about SB 566, and to discuss in particular the approach incorporated in the bill for replacing the ISTEP testing program.  

It is clear that Indiana has an urgent need to develop and implement statewide assessments that are aligned to the Indiana Standards for English language arts (ELA) and for mathematics that were adopted just a year ago. These are needed to help prepare Indiana’s students for college and career, to support the improvements in teaching and learning the standards require, and to continue Indiana’s efforts to strengthen accountability and improve educators’ effectiveness. High-quality summative assessments are key to all of these efforts. 

Indiana has long been a leader among states in standards-based reforms to promote college and career readiness. The development of the Core 40 in 1994 and its option in 2004 as the default course of study for earning a high school diploma put Indiana far ahead of other states in taking the steps to prepare its students for college and career.

Achieve has worked with Indiana over a 15-year period to evaluate and, where necessary, recommend improvements to its standards and assessments. Achieve first reviewed Indiana’s ELA and mathematics standards and assessments in 1999 and recommended significant improvements to both, which were largely incorporated in subsequent drafts. In 2003 Achieve conducted an analysis of the newly implemented ISTEP+ to determine the extent to which it was aligned with state standards, as well as whether the proposed scores for passing represented “solid academic performance” and the Pass+ score represented “exemplary performance.” This study, commissioned by Indiana leaders, demonstrated an unprecedented commitment to transparency and quality with respect to setting cut scores. In 2004, Achieve used the Indiana mathematics standards as a benchmark – a standard of excellence – in our reviews of standards from other states. 

Please find the full testimony here.