ISTEP server problem hits students, schools statewide

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An online server problem turned the latest round of statewide ISTEP testing into statewide confusion and frustration for school districts, parents and students Monday.

According to McGraw Hill, the company that handles ISTEP testing for Indiana, roughly 27,000 students in 3rd-8th grade were impacted by a problem with the company’s server.

Though some students were able to complete sections of the online ISTEP tests, many districts reported login issues and slowdowns that forced them to suspend testing for some students.

When Anna Woods got tickets to Monday’s Indianapolis Indians baseball game, she thought her kids would be done with a day of testing, she later found out that her daughter never even started.

“I know now that they’ve got to do testing again tomorrow,” Woods said. “Obviously we have plans to be at a game, so it’s going to be a little bit later of a night, whereas normally I’d like to have her get extra rest.”

But Anna’s daughter may have had it better than her son.

“It took me at least half of the school day (to complete the test)” Jacob Woods said.

Jacob Woods and his classmates at New Palestine Middle School fought through continued glitches.

“My whole class had the same thing going on, it would all happen at the same time,” Jacob Woods said. “It wouldn’t even let us log in or anything.”

According to McGraw Hill, a server problem is to blame. Engineers were working to fix the problem Monday afternoon and notified the Indiana Department of Education that testing would be possible again on Tuesday morning.

School districts across the state reported problems and most chose to suspend at least portions of the testing once the slowdowns and glitches became too great.

“Some of our schools were experiencing a freezing of the frame,” said IPS Spokesman John Althardt. “Some of our students were being kicked out.”

In addition to suspending testing on Monday, Althardt said IPS is also asking the state for an extended testing window because of limited access to computers and a possible negative impact on students.

“There’s a lot of buildup to ISTEP because of its significance, so any time we have a situation like this, it is disruptive and it is frustrating,” Althardt said.

“We are going to talk with schools throughout the state and find out exactly what their needs are,” said Daniel Altman, Spokesman for the Indiana Department of Education. “We’re going to work with them to make sure that they have the opportunity to give their students a fair test.”

Despite the problems, Altman said students should be able to pick up exactly where they left off.

“(McGraw Hill) told us that the data is completely secure, so that if a student had finished a test, that data is still there, or if a student got a portion of the way through one of the sessions, and then were interrupted, that data should still be there and so we won’t lose any of that information,” Altman said.