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July 30, 2013

Clark, Floyd education officials digest ISTEP+ study

State says test not invalidated, but local districts still have doubts


> SOUTHERN INDIANA — Tabulating scores

The delay in getting scores to districts prevents them from submitting their school improvement plans, which are mandated by the state and due on Sept. 15.

Kim Knott, superintendent at Clarksville Community Schools, said without an extension, it would put some undue stress on corporations to complete them in such a short amount of time.

“By the time you analyze the data and you get all the people together, you don’t have a lot of time remaining,” Knott said. “Basically [under the previous deadline], you’ve got four weeks to get it done and you’d like to be able to spend the summer doing that, so you’re starting of the school year with those measurable goals. None of that’s going to happen until after we get those results.”

But while the third-party reviewer, Richard Hill, co-founder of the National Center for Improvement of Educational Assessment, said it’s easy enough to apply the study’s results to districts and schools, it’s harder to tie that data to how effective individual teachers were last year.

Reed said if the data can’t be applied on a micro level, it didn’t make much sense to apply it on a macro level.

“The real problem is when you look at it from an apples to oranges standpoint,” Reed said. “Can you say that when you start giving letter grades to schools, you’re saying that you’re comparing apples to apples? But their own data shows schools had interruptions up to 28 percent, and you’ll compare those to schools with little or no interruptions? They say they can because based on their past performances, before they gave the test, these kids came close to their prediction, so the disruptions don’t matter. I beg to differ with that, I will never agree to that.”

Jensen said without having read the full report, she didn’t want to comment on the outcome of the study. But she said she was left with a number of questions just in listening to Monday’s report.

Melin said once his team has a chance to look at the ISTEP+ results on their own, he’ll have a better comparison of how his district performed over how the state says they performed.

“I guess at first glance, you need to respect the study that was completed,” Melin said. “If the study says that based upon their analysis that the interruptions had a negligent impact on ISTEP testing, I guess you need to trust that at first glance. Until we get a chance to see our scores and do an analysis on our own, it’s difficult to be concrete until then.”

Daniel Altman, spokesman for the Indiana Department of Education, did not return phone calls for this story.

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