The Herald Bulletin

September 5, 2013

ISTEP review suggests some results be tossed


The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — The independent testing expert hired by the state to investigate problems with the state's online standardized test repeated Wednesday that the interruptions earlier this year had little effect on the scores, but still recommended about 1,400 results be thrown out to avoid tainting the other test scores.

Thousands of Indiana students were frozen out of the online tests after CTB/McGraw-Hill's servers were overloaded during the first year students moved from pencil and paper online. But Richard Hill, chairman of the National Center for Improvement of Educational Assessment, determined the disruptions had a minimally positive effect on students' scores, if any effect at all.

His results matched a similar review by CTB/McGraw-Hill.

"The bottom line is both organizations believe there is no discernible impact on the test scores for the vast majority of students," he told the state Board of Education Wednesday.

The reviews, and recommendation that certain test results be thrown out, have continually pushed back the public release of testing data which is typically delivered at the start of the summer, said School Superintendent Glenda Ritz, who also chairs the state board. Schools are currently reviewing the results Hill recommended be invalidated.

Ritz told the board she expects the scores to be released publicly Sept. 9.

Administration of Indiana's standardized test was disrupted last spring when students were kicked off CTB/McGraw-Hill's online test. The national testing company said its online servers were overloaded by too many test-takers.

David Freitas, a board member representing northern Indiana, pressed Hill on whether the scores might have understated student improvements across the state.

"Is it feasible the scores would have gone up higher?" Freitas asked.

Hill replied "Yes," but said it is hard to say exactly what might have happened if the tests had gone off without a hitch.

The results showed slight upticks in Math and English proficiencies across the grades tested, Hill said. He pointed out that a sharp rise in proficiency among fourth-graders, but said that was due to the implementation of new reading standards last year which held more students from advancing from the third grade.

Hill and his team tested for noticeable changes in scores to pick out which results should be invalidated. The majority of invalid results are from math tests, he said, because schools administer the math test days before the English test. The disruptions during the first days of testing, through the end of April and beginning of May this year.