Lawmakers investigate root of ISTEP woes

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INDIANAPOLIS — Lawmakers called a joint Commission on Education meeting Friday to investigate the problems surrounding this year’s ISTEP+ testing.

The public meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m. in the Senate Chamber at the Statehouse in Indianapolis.

We spend a lot of money on it,” said State Rep. Robert Behning, a co-chairperson of the commission.  “It’s a very important assessment and it’s something we want to make sure we do right.”

In addition to a public comment portion of the meeting, during which Behning said the Commission on Education hopes to hear from superintendents, teachers, parents and students from across the state, the commission lists several top officials on its agenda.  An Indiana Department of Education official will testify, as will the president, chief digital officer and vice president of engineering from CTB/McGraw Hill, the company that administers the testing for the state.

“We’re focused on children, What kind of impact this had on the students and [to] make sure we can at least hear all the problems,” Behning told Fox 59 News.  “Then in the next meeting we’ll hopefully have the validity study and figure out how we’re going to go from there.”

The validity of the tests could help determine what happens with millions of dollars in taxpayer money.  Education funding for individual districts and the state is often tied to performance.  Additionally, the state does contractually have the ability for some sort of recourse or refund when testing does not go as planned.

This year, ISTEP+ testing had to be shut down multiple times after the computer systems running the tests moved too slowly, logged students out in the middle of tests and other problems arose.

Anyone who cannot attend the meeting in person can watch online at http://www.in.gov/legislative/2441.htm.