The Herald Bulletin

September 9, 2013

Schools and families receive individual student ISTEP scores

Results by school corporation still on hold

By Dani Palmer The Herald Bulletin
The Herald Bulletin

---- — ANDERSON — Indiana educators have finally received ISTEP data after months of waiting, but to really get an idea of how each school is doing, officials said, it’ll be another week or so of waiting.

The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) released individual student scores to school districts and families Monday, but is still working on school and district summaries — data officials are eagerly waiting on that will be made available to the public.

“We can’t make any observations until we have it all,” said Sandra Hudson, South Madison Community School Corp. assistant superintendent.

Typically released in July, 2013’s ISTEP scores were delayed as test administrator CTB/McGraw-Hill, an independent testing expert and the IDOE investigated disruptions caused by glitches in the online portion of the state standardized exam in April.

A report released in July found that about 80,000 students in grades three through eighth, 16 percent of all students who took ISTEP, had at least one part of the test interrupted when server glitches kicked them offline.

To even get Monday’s data, districts like South Madison and private schools like Liberty Christian faced difficulties in accessing information during the morning and early afternoon hours.

With the Diocese of Lafayette, Sherry Young will be reviewing scores for St. Mary’s and St. Ambrose Catholic schools in Anderson and said officials had only seen results from a few of the 20 schools in the diocese by the afternoon.

Hudson said she tried logging into the server several times, but that it was overloaded with attempts across the state, informing her to try again in 30 minutes.

Trying to get those scores and having to wait two months for them in the first place has been frustrating, she added.

Daleville Community Schools Superintendent Paul Garrison said remedial efforts were delayed, along with important tasks officials wanted to complete before school started to be “proactive and plan ahead.”

That includes the school improvement plans for P.L. 221 districts have to submit to the state — now delayed until November.

“It (the late release of scores) just delays everything,” Garrison said.

“It’s been difficult,” Madison-Grant United School Corp. Superintendent John Trout added. “We’ve really leaned on other data we collected from students to help out.”

But, despite the disruptions the glitches caused in April, Garrison said administrators “got an idea” of how the district did in the available data and are “very pleased” with the improvement they’ve been seeing.

In South Madison, three students had their scores thrown out because of the glitches. Those results were marked as “undertermined,” not failing, and will not hurt students or “be used against schools for accountability,” IDOE Press Secretary Daniel Altman said.

An independent testing expert hired by the state determined that the interruptions had little effect on the scores, but still recommended nearly 1,400 results be thrown out to avoid tainting other scores.

Anderson Community Schools was one of the few districts in Madison County to report no problems in accessing scores.

Assistant Superintendent Beth Clark said officials were able to access them in the morning and were still working on “piecing together all that data.”

Still, the delay in results and new outreach from the IDOE has placed ACS “on hold for just a little bit.” Clark said each congressional district now has a representative from the department assisting with those school improvement plans.

While schools wait for result summaries, Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz is seeking $614,000 in damages from CTB/McGraw-Hill under provisions included in the state’s $95 million contract with the company.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.