Indiana News

State Worried About Validity of ISTEP Results After Computer Snafu

Scores are used to evaluate schools, teachers

5/1/2013


State school superintendent Glenda Ritz (left) and members of the State Board of Education. (WIBC.com photo: Eric Berman)

The State Board of Education is questioning whether ISTEP scores will still be valid, after two straight days of widespread computer crashes.

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ISTEP scores help determine school accountability grades, and are a factor in setting teacher pay. State board member Mike Pettibone says he's heard from schools where students lost work they'd already done and had to start over, with different questions. CTB McGraw-Hill, which administers the test, had said students were able to pick up where they left off.

Even when that's the case, Pettibone says it's not reasonable to expect elementary and middle school students to maintain their concentration through all the interruptions, especially when they see classmates leaving for lunch.

Board member B.J. Watts says if he were using ISTEP to plan how to address the needs of a student in his class, he'd throw the results out. And board member Daniel Elsener calls the glitches "disastrous."

State school superintendent Glenda Ritz says 8% of test-takers have been affected by the computer snafu. She says the focus right now is on completing the testing. After that, she says the state will review what the problems mean for school and teacher evaluations.

CTB says simulations it conducted before the start of testing underestimated how many students would be using the computers at the same time. The company says it's corrected the system configuration, but Ritz says she's instructed schools to cut the testing groups in half, in hopes of avoiding further disruptions.

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