Pharos-Tribune

Breaking News

Editorials

July 2, 2013

OUR VIEW: ISTEP test needs less weight

The Indiana Department of Education wants $614,000 in damages from CTB/McGraw-Hill, after server failures disrupted the online administration of ISTEP tests across the state.

“Overwhelmed” servers kicked off students in Oklahoma and Indiana over a two-day period in April, McGraw-Hill executives told state legislators. Company president Ellen Haley said her technicians couldn’t anticipate the demand on equipment.

Many lawmakers and educators are reacting to the ISTEP failures with indignation. But some self-reflection is warranted.

If students weren’t taking the test all at once, McGraw-Hill servers wouldn’t have crashed. Yet students were taking the test all at once because of past cheating scandals.

In 2011, the number of investigations into ISTEP testing irregularities increased to 19, according to The Journal Gazette in Fort Wayne. Among those irregularities was the ISTEP test’s biggest breach ever, when an eighth-grade essay question was posted on Facebook. More than 80,000 students around the state had their results on that item tossed out in a case that involved teachers in three districts.

In other cases, teachers were accused of using live test items to practice with students, of creating practice problems that matched test questions, of teaching lessons specifically geared to those questions and of telling students to change their answers.

An analysis of the 2011 tests showed almost 4 percent of the state’s schools were flagged for having at least one classroom with an excessive number of answers that had been changed from wrong to right. In all, about 90 of the state’s 2,400 schools were sent notices about suspicious test results.

Clearly, the pressure for students to do well on the test has gotten to some teachers. After all, the test scores can now influence not only a school’s reputation but a teacher’s paycheck, a school district’s graduation rate and its overall state funding. Consistently bad scores can even lead the state to step in and take over a struggling school.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Editorials
  • THEIR VIEW: Constitutional convention won't work today There seems to be a growing idea that we need a Constitutional convention. That, of course, is the other way to change the Constitution. Amendments have been used 27 times to make changes, ranging from limiting the president's term of office to the d

    April 16, 2014

  • THEIR VIEW: Health care fraud can't go unchecked National health care spending tops $2.7 trillion annually. That leaves a lot of room, and temptation, for abuse of a bureaucracy that administers medical services. Medicare and Medicaid scams may cost taxpayers more than $98 billion each year. Health

    April 15, 2014

  • THEIR VIEW: Lessons from 2nd Fort Hood The shooting at Fort Hood last week has stirred up more debates about guns and mental health but adding little more than some oratorical dust. Consider these elements: • Army Spec. Ivan Lopez, who killed three and wounded 16 others before taking his

    April 10, 2014

  • THEIR VIEW: Fast lane for road projects Our interstate, national and state highways carry millions of people through and across Indiana each year. Those roadways form the physical connections among our communities. Not just people, but dollars. One state legislator says "half a trillion do

    April 9, 2014

  • THEIR VIEW: Doubts about Common Core doubts It wasn't the most solid week in the movement to swap out the school standards known as Common Core State Standards for a homegrown set of measures in Indiana. Sure, the General Assembly was able to get a bill to Gov. Mike Pence last month to scrap t

    April 8, 2014

  • OUR VIEW: Parents, let's talk about money There are many talks that parents need to have with their children. They talk about bullying at school and talk about drugs. And of course, there's the always-dreaded "birds and the bees" talk. But there's a talk that many parents gloss over. And it'

    April 6, 2014

  • OUR VIEW: Sporadic bouts of snow, rain and sun have kept most of us indoors the past few weeks. Now, weather forecasters tell us of better, warmer days, the kind where we can roll down the car windows, open the sunroof or hop on a motorcycle. But it's that tim

    April 4, 2014

  • OUR VIEW: Early voter registration deadlines should go Sign up for nearly anything online and you'll have a confirmation of completion email within seconds. Sometimes it's so fast that it seems your inbox dings before you even hit enter. The processing of information has become almost instantaneous. Tha

    April 3, 2014

  • OUR VIEW: Time to fix the real problem with flood insurance Those living in flood-prone areas have watched with weary eyes as the National Flood Insurance Program is drowning in a $24 billion sea of red ink. And although the scene has been playing out in national headlines, it is hitting home for many in Loga

    April 2, 2014

  • ANOTHER VIEW: New law represents appropriate action New law represents appropriate action As the dust settles around the big issues that dominated the recent session of the Indiana General Assembly, some of the more mundane yet important results of the session are coming to light. Among the significan

    April 1, 2014