The Herald Bulletin

Midday Update

Local Education

June 10, 2013

Ritz orders independent analysis of ISTEP results

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz has hired an outside expert to determine the validity of ISTEP+ test scores of nearly 80,000 students who were kicked offline while taking the high-stakes standardized test.

Ritz announced Monday that the state Department of Education has contracted with the New Hampshire-based National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment (NCIEA), to analyze the results of tests interrupted by computer server problems at CTB-McGraw Hill, the test administrator.

Ritz said the need for an independent review was critical given that the test results impact teacher pay, school ratings and student placement.

“Because the stakes of this test are so high, the results must be beyond reproach,” Ritz said.

Nearly one in six students who took the ISTEP+ test this spring experienced some kind of disruption during the online test, Ritz said. Some students were booted off for a few seconds, before they could log on again, while others experienced longer outages.

Ritz said the “alarmingly high volume of test interruptions” was frustrating for parents, students and teachers alike.

“These interruptions were simply unacceptable and they call into question the validity of the test scores,” Ritz said.

The state Department of Education will pay $53,600 to NCIEA for the analysis, to be done independently of a similar review being conducted by CTB-McGraw Hill.  Results from the analysis are expected by mid-July.

Ritz stopped short of saying whether any of test results will be tossed out, as some school administrators have called for.

But the Democrat Ritz made clear her disapproval of the weight the testing now carries, under measures passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature, in determining such things as teacher compensation and the grades schools get under the state’s A-F accountability system.

Ritz said the standardized test is no longer used as intended, for measuring student learning. “I’m hoping that the state of Indiana wants to reduce the high stakes attached to this test,” Ritz said.

She’s already told local districts that they have the option to downgrade the significance of the test scores in regards to teacher evaluations.

House Education Committee Chairman Bob Behning, an Indianapolis Republican who supported the testing measures that Ritz opposes, said it’s too early to make any decisions about throwing out test scores.

“Let’s not get too far out on the issue, before we even know where we stand,” said Behning, who will lead a legislative review of the testing problems this summer.

“Everybody in the General Assembly is very aware of what happened and we’re very concerned,” he added.

Just how much impact the testing interruptions had is hard to determine without some analysis. Some local school administrators feared students who experienced the interruptions may have been rattled by the experience and not have done well.

After reports of computer problems during the test-taking period in late April, the state stepped in and extended the test period into May. In all, about 482,000 students completed the ISTEP+ test, most without experiencing problems.

To determine the validity of the tests taken by students who experienced the computer problems, NCIEA will compare student test answers pre- and post-interruption, and look back at prior-year test scores, to statistically determine the validity of this year’s results.

Whether the test administrator, CTB-McGraw Hill, will be asked to repay the state for the analysis is yet to be determined. Ritz said the state has several options, including financially penalizing the company under its four-year, $95 million contract with the state.

Indiana was one of at least three states that had major problems with CTB-McGraw Hill this spring related to the standardized tests that are federally mandated. The company, which controls about 40 percent of the testing market issued an apology in May, saying it regretted the impact of “system interruptions” that caused delays for thousands of test-taking students.

It was the third straight year that Indiana students experienced service interruptions during online testing administered by the company.

Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com.

1
Text Only
Local Education
  • FEA - HB0728 - Fresh Orientation - SH Elwood freshmen learn the ways of high school through mentoring program About half the 112 incoming freshmen at Elwood Jr./Sr. High School got a jump on their friends recently by attending a freshman orientation session. Joan Mercer, an English teacher who helped organize the the orientation, said the mentor program, which has been in place for several years, has been effective in new students make the high school transition.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • NWS - HB0727 - Teacher Blessing - 13 Church's donation a blessing for teachers Thirty teachers attended the second annual Blessings for Teachers on Saturday at Anderson First Baptist Church.

    July 26, 2014 2 Photos

  • 24th Back-to-School parade and picnic on Aug. 2 The 24th annual Ollie H. Dixon Back-to-School parade and picnic will be held on Saturday, Aug. 2, in conjunction with the Anderson Parks Department.

    July 26, 2014

  • Elwood schools seek election change Elwood Community Schools is seeking to change the process for the way that members of the school board will be elected starting with the November election.

    July 25, 2014

  • South Madison superintendent contract OK'd South Madison Community Schools officials Thursday unanimously ratified a new three-year contract for Superintendent Joe Buck, and approved textbook fees for middle and high school students.

    July 24, 2014

  • Vaughan, Nancy Madison County grad rates and test scores improve, but still lag state High school graduation rates and standardized test scores in English, math and science all improved among public school students in Madison County from 2009 to 2013, according to a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

    July 22, 2014 3 Photos

  • Pay for South Madison soccer coaches under review An ad hoc parent group wants the South Madison Community Schools board to consider raising the stipend for Pendleton Heights High School soccer coaches.

    July 21, 2014

  • FEA - HB0721 - Rotary Exchange - JC 1 Foreign exchange program builds lasting friendships Paulina Berger returned to her hometown in Olpe, Germany on Friday, but she left something important behind: part of her heart. The 16-year-old spent a year living with three host families in Anderson as part of the Rotary Youth Exchange program.

    July 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • FEA HB0721 ISU Normal Hall Work underway to restore ISU's Normal Hall The sounds of heavy equipment, impact drills and even a large wrecking ball are evidence of a renovation underway at Normal Hall, Indiana State University's oldest academic building.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • HHS class of '66 seeks classmates The Highland High School Class of '66 will host its 48th class reunion on Aug. 23. Contact information is needed for several classmates.

    July 19, 2014

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide