News and Tribune

Education/Schools

June 11, 2013

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

(Continued)

INDIANAPOLIS —

Reed said if the state decides to admit the test results into accountability standards, he hopes districts will get an opportunity to see how the results were assessed by National Center.

 

EVALUATING THE SITUATION

Ritz said the standardized test is no longer used as intended — for measuring student learning. “I’m hoping that the state of Indiana wants to reduce the high stakes attached to this test,” Ritz said.

She’s already told local districts that they have the option to downgrade the significance of the test scores in regards to teacher evaluations. 

House Education Committee Chairman Bob Behning, an Indianapolis Republican who supported the testing measures that Ritz opposes, said it’s too early to make any decisions about throwing out test scores. 

“Let’s not get too far out on the issue, before we even know where we stand,” said Behning, who will lead a legislative review of the testing problems this summer. 

“Everybody in the General Assembly is very aware of what happened and we’re very concerned,” he added.

After reports of computer problems during the test-taking period in late April, the state stepped in and extended the test period into May. In all, about 482,000 students completed the ISTEP+ test, most without experiencing problems. 

To determine the validity of the tests taken by students who experienced the computer problems, National Center will compare student test answers pre- and post-interruption, and look back at prior-year test scores to statistically determine the validity of this year’s results.

Whether the test administrator, CTB-McGraw Hill, will be asked to repay the state for the analysis is yet to be determined. Ritz said the state has several options, including financially penalizing the company under its four-year, $95 million contract with the state. 

Indiana was one of at least three states that had major problems with CTB-McGraw Hill this spring related to the standardized tests that are federally mandated. The company, which controls about 40 percent of the testing market, issued an apology in May, saying it regretted the impact of “system interruptions” that caused delays for thousands of test-taking students. 

It was the third straight year that Indiana students experienced service interruptions during online testing administered by the company.

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