The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Local Education

April 30, 2013

Strike two as online ISTEP again faces glitches

Testing should resume Wednesday

ANDERSON, Ind. — Tuesday morning started out fairly smoothly. There were a few issues, nothing major. But around 11 a.m., that began to change as Madison County schools once again faced online ISTEP disruptions.

“We’re dead in the water essentially, not able to do any testing right now,” Anderson Preparatory Academy Assistant Director Stacey Brewer said Tuesday afternoon.

Indiana Superintendent Glenda Ritz instructed the Department of Education to suspend testing for the remainder of the school day as test administrator CTB McGraw-Hill LLC. continued to deal with technical difficulties for the second consecutive day.

Between 7:30 and 11 a.m. Tuesday, Ritz said, over 150,000 test sessions had been completed. It was around 11:15 a.m. that “there was a spike in test interruptions.”

Students were once again locked out of the exams and forced to reboot their computers. Computer screens again began to freeze.

Brewer said it’s “getting frustrating for the students” who are working to do their best on an important state exam.

On Monday, APA’s morning testing, like many county schools, had to be halted until the afternoon for the same glitches that affected students statewide.

According to Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) officials, 27,000 students were affected Monday.

The students were able to pick up where they left off Tuesday, but Brewer said some were trying to hurry through the test because they were worried about getting kicked out of the system again.

It’s not an environment conducive to student achievement, she added.

“Putting time, energy and effort in to do your best and facing a situation you can’t control is going to play with your mind a little bit,” she said.

CTB McGraw-Hill reported that testing should be able to resume today. Ritz said the state would conduct an investigation to determine the cause of the disruptions and that the IDOE is willing to work with schools “so that they have the time they need to administer a fair test for all Hoosier students.”

That could include extensions for the allotted two-week testing window, IDOE press secretary Daniel Altman said.

Which could run some junior/senior high schools right into End of Course assessments that the high schoolers take.

There have also been concerns as to how the state can validate the exams with the stress on the students.

“The department will talk and work with the schools to make sure they’re able to get a fair test done,” Altman said.

He added that Oklahoma was running into the same problems Tuesday with CTB McGraw-Hill’s online testing system.

Frankton-Lapel, South Madison, Anderson and Elwood school districts also reported a good beginning that quickly slid downhill Tuesday.

Some schools, such as Frankton Jr./Sr. High School, were able to finish most of their work before problems set in, Principal Jerry Hoss said. Almost all the school’s eighth-graders are done, and seventh-graders only have to finish the social studies section.

“We’ve been very fortunate,” he said.

Reporter Baylee Pulliam contributed to this story.

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