Pharos-Tribune

State News

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 | Photo Reprints
State News
  • Evansville councilwoman won't be prosecuted over recording EVANSVILLE (AP) — The head of Indiana's State Board of Accounts says he will limit the participation of local officials in reviewing audits reports after a prosecutor's decision that an Evansville city councilwoman didn't break the law by secretly re

    July 31, 2014

  • Man sentenced for 2003 Indiana bank shootout INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A federal judge has ordered a 35-year prison sentence for a man convicted of shooting at a central Indiana police officer during a 2003 bank robbery. The sentence against 46-year-old Pascal Sylla comes after a jury convicted him i

    July 31, 2014

  • Teen charged in slaying of mom found dead in trunk GARY (AP) — A 17-year-old girl has been charged with murder in the death of her mother whose body was found in her car's trunk in a wooded area of Gary a few weeks ago. The charges filed by Lake County prosecutors on Wednesday follow the July 11 arre

    July 31, 2014

  • BMV offering driver tests in 11 languages INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles is now offering drivers tests in 11 languages other than English that are spoken across Indiana. BMV Commissioner Don Snemis said Wednesday the decision was made at the urging of businesses, un

    July 31, 2014

  • Supreme Court observers predict ‘wide open’ process of picking of next chief INDIANAPOLIS — State Supreme Court Chief Justice Brent Dickson surprised observers in June when he decided to step down after a brief tenure in the leadership post.Another surprise may be in store when his replacement is named.A seven-member panel of

    July 31, 2014

  • Feds cite Indiana Medicaid fraud unit over notices INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A federal agency found that the Indiana attorney general's office didn't give proper notice in nearly a quarter of the Medicaid fraud cases it helped prosecute in recent years. A report from the Department of Health and Human Serv

    July 30, 2014

  • Indianapolis man buys 2 $1M tickets in 3 months INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Indianapolis man is celebrating his second $1 million Hoosier Lottery prize in the past three months. Lottery officials say Robert Hamilton won a $1 million prize from a scratch-off ticket he bought last week at a convenience s

    July 30, 2014

  • Settlement erases debt for 261 Indiana military members INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Attorney General Greg Zoeller says a new settlement will erase $1.5 million of bad debt for 261 military members from Indiana. Zoeller and attorneys general from 12 other states filed suit against the lender Rome Finance. They acc

    July 30, 2014

  • Frankfort teen dies after rescue from Indiana city pool FRANKFORT (AP) — Authorities say a 15-year-old boy pulled from a central Indiana city pool has died. Frankfort Mayor Chris McBarnes says Adrian Alanis died in an Indianapolis hospital on Tuesday, the day after he was rescued from the deep end of the

    July 30, 2014

  • Clark County sheriff charged in prostitution probe NEW ALBANY (AP) — A southern Indiana sheriff who authorities say gave a prostitute a deputy's badge and uniform so she could get hotel discounts, then paid her for a sex act, has been charged with lying to FBI agents investigating the case. A federal

    July 29, 2014

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

Should the U.S. impose a travel ban on three West African nations in response to a growing Ebola virus outbreak?

Yes
No
Not sure
     View Results
Featured Ads
AP Video
Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.