Indiana News

State to Extend ISTEP Window Following Computer Crashes

5/1/2013

State school superintendent Glenda Ritz says schools will have an extra five days to complete ISTEP testing, in the wake of computer crashes that have disrupted the test for thousands of students.

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The state has advised schools to administer ISTEP to only half their students at a time, to reduce the strain on computer servers. With the slowed pace, Ritz says they'll have until May 15 to finish instead of May 10, giving districts an additional three school days to work with.

Ritz says the software shows exactly which students had their tests interrupted. She says she'll wait until testing is complete to decide what weight the botched exam should have on school and teacher performance measures. She's also deferring a review of whether the failures represent a breach of contract by test vendor TCB-McGraw-Hill.

Ritz says it's normal for about 2% of students to encounter ISTEP computer trouble. She says the failure rate for the first two days of testing was four times that, as TCB first ran into problems with insufficient memory and then with server overload.

Ritz says her office is consulting each morning with TCB to assess whether the system can handle a full load of testing again.

This is the first year Indiana schools have been required to administer as much of the test via computer as their technological capabilities allow. TCB says it conducted a simulation before the test began but underestimated the number of students who would be logging in.

TCB also handles testing for Oklahoma schools, and is encountering similar trouble there. Ritz says she doesn't know whether the combination of students from the two states contributed to the overload issues.

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