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September 18, 2013

ISTEP scores released after months-long delay

Results show continued improvement in math, English.

INDIANAPOLIS — The much-delayed ISTEP+ scores that were released publicly today show continued improvement by students statewide on the standardized tests that measure proficiency the core subjects of math and English.

The results, released by the Indiana Department of Education, show 79.5 percent of students passed the English portion of the test and 82.7 percent passed the math portion. Statewide, 73.5 percent of students passed both sections of the test. The numbers show a small improvement over last year, when 79.4 percent of students passed English and 81.2 percent passed math. In 2012, about 73 percent passed both portions of the ISTEP test, up from about 71 percent in 2011.

The test is given in the late spring to students in grades 3 through 8 and also to high school sophomores. 

Release of the standardized test results was delayed by more than three months, due to a series of events related to computer glitches that disrupted the online test-taking in late April and early May. About 80,000 of the 482,000 students who took the test were kicked offline at some point during the test, triggering protests from schools that feared the computer disruptions would result in poorer test scores. An independent review ordered by the Department of Education later showed “no negative impact” overall on student test scores, though about 1,400 test results may be thrown out.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz released the scores to the public Wednesday, with a statement acknowledging the problems that caused their delay.

“First, I want to acknowledge the extraordinary efforts of Indiana students, parents, educators, administrators and the employees of the Department of Education for their efforts during the administration of this test,” Ritz said.  “Despite considerable difficulties, our students improved their overall performance yet again, and deserve our congratulations.” 

Ritz has been a tough critic of ISTEP, in part because of the high stakes associated with the test results. The scores earned by students are used to determine a wide range of other factors, including teacher pay, school funding, and the A-F school rating system.

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