News and Tribune

Education/Schools

June 11, 2013

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

(Continued)

INDIANAPOLIS —

“When things don’t go quite as we want them to, it takes a lot of flexibility, a lot of patience and a lot of good people that work for us to figure out how we’re going to get the job done,” Jensen said. 

 

THE COMPANY

Ritz announced Monday that the state Department of Education has contracted with New Hampshire-based National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment to analyze the results of tests interrupted by computer server problems at CTB-McGraw Hill, the test administrator. 

Ritz said the need for an independent review was critical given that the test results affect teacher pay, school ratings and student placement. 

“Because the stakes of this test are so high, the results must be beyond reproach,” Ritz said.

Nearly one in six Indiana students who took the ISTEP+ test this spring experienced some kind of disruption during the online test, Ritz said. Some students were booted off for a few seconds before they could log on again, while others experienåced longer outages.

Ritz said the “alarmingly high volume of test interruptions” was frustrating for parents, students and teachers alike. 

“These interruptions were simply unacceptable and they call into question the validity of the test scores,” Ritz said. 

The state Department of Education will pay $53,600 to National Center for the analysis, to be done independently of a similar review being conducted by CTB-McGraw Hill. Results from the analysis are expected by mid-July. 

Ritz stopped short of saying whether any of test results will be tossed out, as some school administrators have called for. But the Democrat Ritz made clear her disapproval of the weight the testing now carries, under measures passed by the Republican-controlled legislature, in determining such things as teacher compensation and the grades schools get under the state’s A-F accountability system. 

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