News and Tribune

Clark County

June 11, 2013

Education head hires company to examine ISTEP results; local problems prevalent

INDIANAPOLIS —

Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz has hired an outside expert to determine the validity of ISTEP+ test scores of nearly 80,000 students who were knocked offline while taking the high-stakes standardized test.

Thousands of students in Clark and Floyd counties were affected by system kick-offs and other issues while taking the multiple-choice section of the test in April and May, officials say.

Karen Spencer, supervisor for assessment in Greater Clark County Schools, said about 2,000 students were kicked off the system while testing or experienced other issues. About 4,800 students in the district were required to take the test.

She said along with giving serious test-takers additional anxiety in completing the test and possibly affecting their ability to do their best, she said this year’s hiccups give her concern about how the results could affect the district.

“If kids didn’t do their best, it will reflect not only on the school, but on the district and A through F grades [for schools],” Spencer said. “The growth model depends on how they performed this year over last year on that one test. This multiple-choice test weighs in on the applied skills test they took [in March].”

John Reed, assistant superintendent of West Clark Community Schools, said 648 out of 2,173 students in his district were reported to the Indiana Department of Education for problems they experienced during testing. He said some students saw questions repeated after they already answered them along with the other issues other districts had.

“We had so many issues that I don’t want to say that it was limited to a certain amount of kids,” Reed said. “We had issues in every school in our district [that takes ISTEP]. In one way or another, our students experienced disruptions. If it wasn’t one student, it was the ones next to them that had distress, and that put the ones without problems in distress.”

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