What happened with this week’s ISTEP test was intolerable.
The test was administered online by CTB/McGraw-Hill and, on the first two days, students were thrown off the program or had their computers freeze up because the administering company couldn’t handle the load.
This is inexcusable because these tests are too important — to students, teachers and schools — to have them compromised in such a way.
After the first two days, students were able to log on and take the test, but only a few students could take the exam at any given time.
What this had to create in schools across the state was an unbearable tension and stress. Students know the test is important because they’ve heard their teachers preaching about it for months. Now when it comes time to take it, all these barriers are raised. The results will be less than ideal since the test was given under duress.
Schools rely on ISTEP results to evaluate teachers and the state Department of Education also uses the results to assign letter grades to schools. With all that is riding on this test, it has to be administered under the best of conditions. That wasn’t the case this week.
According to news sources, members of the State Board of Education are beyond incensed at what happened. B.J. Watts, a board member and teacher in Evansville, said students can feel the tension from teachers and administrators as the problems mount, which will make the results questionable.
“If this were data that I was taking in my classroom to inform instruction, I’d throw it out,” Watts said.
Superintendent Glenda Ritz said the results will have to be evaluated as to how they affect schools and teacher accountability.
CTB/McGraw-Hill worked furiously to get the system back into shape, but released a statement saying, “The interruptions are not acceptable to the students and educators of Indiana or to CTB/McGraw-Hill. We sincerely regret the inconvenience we have caused in these first two days of testing.”
The board wasn’t impressed. Tony Walker, a board member from Gary, said the testing company should have to pay for the mistakes and said the problems might even be considered a “breach of contract.”
Of course, when something new is rolled out there are bound to be glitches, but this is beyond that. This was a systemic problem that has a profound effect on every aspect of education in Indiana.
Because of that, we join others around the state who say the test results should be scrapped.