Mt. Vernon Register-News

Community News Network

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
Community News Network
  • Survey results in legislation to battle sexual assault on campus

    Missouri U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill joined a bipartisan group of senators Wednesday to announce legislation that aims to reduce the number of sexual assaults on college campuses.

    July 30, 2014

  • An alarming threat to airlines that no one's talking about

    It's been an abysmal year for the flying public. Planes have crashed in bad weather, disappeared over the Indian Ocean and tragically crossed paths with anti-aircraft missiles over Ukraine.

    July 30, 2014

  • linda-ronstadt.jpg Obama had crush on First Lady of Rock

    Linda Ronstadt remained composed as she walked up to claim her National Medal of Arts at a White House ceremony Monday afternoon.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Can black women have it all?

    In a powerful new essay for the National Journal, my friend Michel Martin makes a compelling case for why we need to continue the having-it-all conversation.

    July 29, 2014

  • Dangerous Darkies Logo.png Redskins not the only nickname to cause a stir

    Daniel Snyder has come under fire for refusing to change the mascot of his NFL team, the Washington Redskins. The Redskins, however, are far from being the only controversial mascot in sports history.  Here is a sampling of athletic teams from all areas of the sports world that were outside the norm.

    July 28, 2014 3 Photos

  • 'Rebel' mascot rising from the dead

    Students and alumni from a Richmond, Va.-area high school are seeking to revive the school's historic mascot, a Confederate soldier known as the "Rebel Man," spurring debate about the appropriateness of public school connections to the Civil War and its icons.

    July 28, 2014

  • Fast food comes to standstill in China

    The shortage of meat is the result of China's latest food scandal, in which a Shanghai supplier allegedly tackled the problem of expired meat by putting it in new packaging and shipping it to fast-food restaurants around the country

    July 28, 2014

  • wd saturday tobias .jpg Stranger’s generosity stuns Ohio veteran

    Vietnam War veteran David A. Tobias was overwhelmed recently when a fellow customer at an OfficeMax store near Ashtabula, Ohio paid for a computer he was purchasing.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 1.33.11 PM.png VIDEO: High-dive accident caught on tape

    A woman at a water park in Idaho leaped off a 22-foot high dive platform, then tried to pull herself back up with frightening results. Fortunately, she escaped with only a cut to her finger.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • CATS-DOGS281.jpg Where cats are more popular than dogs in the U.S.-and all over the world

    We all know there are only two types of people in the world: cat people and dog people. But data from market research firm Euromonitor suggest that these differences extend beyond individual preferences and to the realm of geopolitics: it turns out there are cat countries and dog countries, too.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

Twitter Updates
Facebook
Stocks