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ISTEP Goof Invalidates Scores at 21 Schools

Hundreds of students were allowed to use calculators when they weren't supposed to

STATEWIDE -- Five schools in Indy, Fishers, Westfield and Eastern Hancock are among 21 schools where hundreds of ISTEP scores will be thrown out. 

14 public and seven private schools mistakenly allowed students to use calculators on a section where that's not allowed. The Indiana Department of Education says federal law allows no choice: those scores have to be thrown out. 

Students in lower grades won't have to repeat the exam, but sophomores at Trinity Christian in Indianapolis and Rochester and Saint Joseph South Bend High Schools have to pass ISTEP to graduate. Instead of putting ISTEP behind them, they'll have to retake the exam, in December or in spring or summer of 2018.

Spokeswoman Molly Deuberry says schools' A-to-F accountability grades are affected too. Those grades will be based only on the students whose scores counted. Schools can appeal to the State Board of Education if they believe their grade doesn't accurately reflect how they're doing.

In Rochester, Deuberry says three schools were unclear about which sections allowed calculators, contacted the testmaking company Pearson, and got incorrect information. The department's investigating how students ended up using calculators at other schools.

Scores are also being thrown out at Saint Roch Catholic School in Indianapolis, Saint Louis de Montfort School in Fishers, Westfield Middle School, and Eastern Hancock Elementary School in Charlottesville.

Other affected schools are in Fort Wayne, New Haven, Upland, Frankfort, Waterloo, Hammond, Mishawaka, Covington, Lafayette, Tennyson and Sellersburg.

Deuberry says 700 scores have been thrown out in Rochester. It won't be clear how many students are affected at other schools until the investigation is complete.

The foulup comes in Pearson's first year of administering the test. The company took over for McGraw-Hill after years of state complaints about testing glitches. Indiana is abolishing ISTEP in 2019 and is preparing to issue a request for bids from companies seeking the contract to write and administer the new exam.

(Photo: Vergeles_Andrey/Thinkstock)

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