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May 3, 2013

Ritz considers third party review of ISTEP+ scores

CLARKSVILLE — A third party may need to be brought in to review ISTEP+ testing scores because the public, teachers and others are questioning whether the results can be valid after a problem-plagued week for the standardized tests, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz said Friday.

“The general public and you, rightfully so, will feel the testing this year is not valid,” Ritz told administrators and teachers during a teleconference Friday, The Indianapolis Star reported. “So we are going to be wrestling with the validity of test scores.”

Testing was halted on Monday and Tuesday because of widespread computer glitches. Schools were asked to reduce by half the number of students taking the tests for the rest of the week to avoid more problems. Schools reported minimal interruptions the rest of the week and Department of Education officials said schools throughout Indiana will be allowed to resume administering the tests at normal levels starting Monday.

The Department of Education reports more than 282,000 testing sessions were completed Friday, bringing the total completed for the week to 1.3 million. Department spokesman Daniel Altman said that is about 52 percent of the total expected.

In Fort Wayne, administrators called on state lawmakers to commission an investigation into the reliability of ISTEP+ tests, The Journal Gazette reported. They also called for the state and the vendor, CTB/McGraw-Hill, to be held accountable, just as schools are held accountable for their students’ test scores.

WANE-TV reported that Fort Wayne Community Schools Superintendent Wendy Robinson said the school board, administrators, teachers and students have lost confidence in the testing system and the results will be questioned no matter what they are.

Ritz said during the teleconference that she doesn’t like high-stakes testing where one test is involved in evaluating schools and is a factor in evaluating teachers.

Teachers will receive a list late this month of students whose testing was interrupted. They will be able to flag tests they feel were disrupted and not valid. The Department of Education also plans to compare this year’s scores against last year’s and use other assessments to identify students who may have been impacted by the disruptions.

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