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July 24, 2013

Schools start new year without knowing last year’s ISTEP performance

Districts await results of validity study into ISTEP issues before cementing long-term plans



Though the state hasn’t announced a release date for ISTEP scores, Ritz is scheduled to give a report on the validity study on Monday.

The results are tied into district funding, but also teacher accountability that can affect raises and even job security.

Melin said though students came in ready for the test this spring, the interruptions disrupted their focus and may have negatively affected their performance.

“There’s great concern of the validity of the scores with the interruptions and the impact that had on students taking the test,” Melin said. “For now, I’ll reserve final comment on this study and its results, but I have a hard time believing that the scores have not been somewhat impacted by the fact that the test had these interruptions. That is a concern.”

He said a lot of students probably took the roadblocks in stride, but many were likely affected by the issues.

But Reed said regardless of the results, he’s not sure they can carry much weight in regards to district, school or teacher performance.

“Based on my own education and statistical training, I just don’t see how there’s going to be much argumentation to support the validity and reliability of ISTEP as far as everything that occurred,” Reed said. “We’ll take whatever we get and deal with it, but there’s not going to be much to be said that will sway my opinion. That data needs to be carefully used if its going to be used for determining performance. I don’t see how it can be used as far as accountability of whether a teacher’s effective or not.”

Knott said even if the results of the study show the results are valid, an air of skepticism will continue to surround them.

“I think that question is the unknown in all of this, [whether they’re valid],” Knott said. “I think human nature will result in the assessment information to be questioned, whether it’s on the positive or negative end. I think we don’t know what the state is going through to determine reliability and validity we can only assume that statistically, it’s the right process for them to go through.”

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