News and Tribune


September 4, 2013

ISTEP results expected Monday

Technical glitches marred test

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — And the results still aren’t in.

After Glenda Ritz, state superintendent for public instruction, announced during a conference last week that the release of ISTEP+ results have been pushed back again to a target date of Monday, local school officials last week said they’re still waiting, but aren’t too surprised.

The validity of the test — which is administered to students in grades three through eight — was called into question after technological problems caused delays for students trying to take it in April.

Daniel Altman, spokesman for the state superintendent’s office, said because a date wasn’t nailed down when Ritz announced the results of a validity study on ISTEP, this latest announcement isn’t exactly another delay.

“The previous estimate was the end of August, but we never set a specific date for when information would come out,” Altman said last week. “Now that we have set a date, it’s about a week after that."

Altman confirmed this week that the results will be relesed Monday.

Central server issues for CTB McGraw-Hill caused students to get kicked off the online portion of the test as well as other types of interruptions.

Ritz called for an independent study of the test results after districts reported delays or other problems for thousands of students. The results of the third-party study concluded the test was still valid.

While districts are still waiting for the results, parents have been awaiting the state’s word on how their students performed.

Sally Jensen, director of assessment for the New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corp., said the district has a number of tools it uses to get an idea of where a student stands academically, but parents like to see the state scores.

“Honestly, the only thing that’s affecting us is that our parents want the information and I’d be happier if I could give it to them,” Jensen said. “That’s the biggest concern. We’ve been telling them since the end of May several different dates.”

Though school improvement plans — a required report that districts must submit to the state — have a pushed-back deadline, other districts want to make sure the state data mirrors what they’ve collected through other assessments.

John Reed, assistant superintendent at West Clark Community Schools, said if there’s a big difference between ISTEP and their internally tabulated tests, it could illustrate invalidity in ISTEP.

“I want to see what those scores are and then I may have a whole lot to say,” Reed sai. “Really, what I’m looking for is a large discrepancy between the assessments we use and what ISTEP says, then I’ll have questions about the validity of the scores.”

Karen Spencer, supervisor of assessment at Greater Clark County Schools, said even if the results aren’t invalid as a whole, she still thinks they could see some differences in the data on an individual level.

“We’re still concerned,” Spencer said. “It can be valid, but we know that there were a lot of interruptions and changes. Even just individually for students, it could be different from one student to another on how it affected them.”

Whatever the results look like for last year, Clarksville Community Schools Superintendent Kim Knott said she just hopes the state doesn’t repeat the same issues in 2014’s round of testing.

“While I am frustrated by the delay, I am not surprised,” Knott said in an email. “I am hopeful the state will meet the September deadline. This information is critical for staff in establishing building academic goals and providing specialized remediation plans for our students. Hopefully the state has gained valuable insight from this last testing cycle, and districts will not encounter the same problems during testing this coming year.”

Megan Erbacher of the Evansville Courier & Press contributed to this report.


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