The Herald Bulletin

August 6, 2013

Editorial: Time to accept analysis of ISTEP results


The Herald Bulletin

---- — There was a statewide panic in the spring when students took the ISTEP test. The test determines many variables for each school, such as teacher evaluations and what letter grade a school is assigned. The test can also determine whether a school will be taken over by the state.

During such an important test, students statetwide found themselves thrown offline while taking the test. Test giver CTB-McGraw Hill's test software began crashing as so many students were logged on.

After that debacle, many people in Indiana, notably test detractors, began saying that this year's results were compromised and should be thrown out. Superintendent of Public Education Glenda Ritz hired an outside party, Richard Hill, co-founder of National Center for Improvement of Educational Assessment, to analyze this year's test data to determine what should be done with the test.

What he discovered left a lot of people scratching their heads. Despite the computer glitches, Hill maintains that this year's ISTEP was not compromised and even showed an improvement in test scores.

Certainly not everyone will buy that analysis. Ritz and other educators seem suspicious. But as a state, we're going to have to accept Hill's assessment and work toward a better test-taking method next year.

Those who don't like the statewide test and hoped this glitch could undermine the test as a whole need to accept that ISTEP is here to stay. The test is going to be used to measure educators, school systems and students.

There might be some adjustments from time to time, such as in the wake of the recent scandal involving former schools chief Tony Bennett changing a letter grade for a charter school. But the state is not going to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

The test is here to stay. Educators, from Ritz on down, along with parents and students, need to accept that this test will be given each year. At the same time, CBT-McGraw Hill needs to ensure that such glitches don't become routine and what happened this year will be unique.

A lot is riding on this test for everyone. Let's end the bellyaching over this year's test and move ahead to make the test the best it can be.

In summary Let's end the bellyaching over this year's test and move ahead to make the test the best it can be.