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July 31, 2013

Study: computer glitches didn't impact ISTEP results.

Study finds glitches didn't have negative impact on results.

(Continued)

Hill rejected that notion and said he analyzed the data in many different ways to find some flaw in the test results. He found, for example, that students who were bumped offline for a few minutes didn’t fare much differently than students whose tests were postponed for a day.

“I cut the data a lot of different ways,” Hill said. “When you keep coming back to it, it’s clear: Student scores rose.”

Hill’s conclusions run counter to what Ritz had anticipated when she ordered the ISTEP analysis in May, after computer problems with the testing company, CTB-McGraw Hill, brought the ISTEP tests to halt in late April. The company later apologized for the problems, which it attributed to lack of memory space on their servers.

Ritz and other educators feared student test scores would be negatively impacted by the repeated interruptions and delays in the testing.

Officials in some school districts had called on Ritz to throw out the ISTEP test results. While she had stopped short of that, she did tell local districts in June that they could minimize the weight of the ISTEP results in determining teacher evaluations and pay. On Monday, she said she was sticking by that decision.

“I have spent the last several months talking with Hoosiers about the impact these interruptions had in the classroom,” Ritz said. “Although Dr. Hill’s report found that the statewide average score was not affected by the interruptions, there is no doubt that thousands of Hoosier students were affected.”

That decision by Ritz, a Democrat who’s been critical of the use of ISTEP scores in teacher evaluations, didn’t sit well with Republican House Education Committee Chairman Bob Behning of Indianapolis.

Behning has previously said that Ritz should have waited until the ISTEP analysis was completed. “Now it appears she mis-shot,” Behning said.

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