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Local News

August 9, 2013

ISTEP results delayed

Questions on validity of ISTEP testing, A-to-F grades remain.

INDIANAPOLIS — State education officials are hoping parents and teachers will see the results of their students’ ISTEP+ scores by late August, but aren’t making any promises about when the much-delayed results of the high-stakes assessment tests will be released.

Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz said her staff at the Indiana Department of Education is working long hours to process and produce the test scores but are hampered by a slew of problems, both related and unrelated to the computer glitches that disrupted the online standardized testing this spring.

“This is serious stuff we’re having to deal with,” Ritz told the State Board of Education at its monthly meeting Wednesday.

On that list of “stuff” is both the fallout from the delayed ISTEP test scores and the questions surrounding the state’s A to F school grading system in the wake of allegations that some schools’ grades were manipulated by Ritz’s predecessor, former state schools chief Tony Bennett.

The Democrat Ritz told the state board that an initial investigation by her staff into the allegations against the Republican Bennett revealed that there was “manipulation” of the calculation categories used in 2012 to rank each Indiana school by grade.

The Associated Press, based on emails released by Ritz’s staff, reported last week that Bennett, who lost his bid for re-election to Ritz, pressured his staff to raise the grades of some charter schools in Indiana, including one founded by a Republican campaign donor. Bennett has denied wrongdoing.

Ritz declined to elaborate on what her staff found during its preliminary investigation. But she said the state DOE will continue to conduct its own investigation, alongside a separate investigation that’s being conducted by an independent task force set up last week by legislative leaders.

Meanwhile, Ritz’s staff is also dealing with the fallout from the delayed release of the spring ISTEP scores, which were originally due out in May.

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