Friday, state lawmakers, the Department of Education and educators in Indianapolis will attempt to find out what happened to this year’s ISTEP+ test for Indiana school students. Computer glitches, overloads and crashes caused a lot of anxiety among teachers and test takers and plenty of outrage from everyone else.
Obviously, CTB/McGraw Hill’s server was not ready for all of the test takers to take it at once. This newspaper argued at the time that the test results should be ruled invalid and disallowed. That hasn’t happened yet, as DOE Superintendent Glenda Ritz has hired an independent agency, National Center for the Improvement of Education, to analyze what went wrong.
CTB/McGraw/Hill is going to give its version Friday, and it needs to be good because there are lawmakers already talking about fines against the company.
Many areas of evaluation arise from ISTEP+ — including assessments of teachers, students and schools overall — and there should be be no doubt about the validity of the results. That’s why Ritz’s outside analyst and the state’s grilling of CTB/McGraw Hill are welcome bits of news.
According to The Associated Press, the state is not ready to dump its $95 million contract with CTB/McGraw Hill, but lawmakers want answers, and they should get them Friday. Going back to paper-and-pencil tests, suggested by some lawmakers, is not likely to happen, though it’s tempting to resort to prehistoric methods after what happened this spring.
One in six students experienced some kind of disruption during ISTEP+. Some were knocked off the website for a few seconds before logging back on. Others had a longer wait. The technology failed the state.
Even though it may be tempting, there is no reason to scrap everything and start anew. Problems can be worked out, and Friday’s meeting with CTB/McGraw Hill should go a long way into ensuring that next year’s test is beyond reproach.
Ritz has advised local schools not to give too much weight to the test when considering teacher evaluations, according to the AP. She added that she will not use invalid results to give letter grades to schools. Those are both good positions. Too much is at stake to use this year’s results for their intended purposes.
Friday’s session with CTB/McGraw Hill needs to provide the answers everyone is looking for, and demonstrate beyond doubt that the company can run a flawless test next year.
In summary Friday's session with CTB/McGraw Hill needs to provide the answers everyone is looking for, and demonstrate beyond doubt that the company can run a flawless ISTEP+ test next year for Indiana students.