State throwing out some ISTEP scores after disruptions

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The Indiana Department of Education is invalidating nearly 1,400 ISTEP test scores after widespread computer delays plagued the tests this spring.

The decision comes just days before parents and schools are set to learn how students performed.

Even though some of the scores won’t be counted, parents will still find out how their children did on the test and Department of Education officials say the problems haven’t had any noticeable impact on overall scores.

When computer server problems plagued ISTEP testing this spring, nearly 80,000 students experienced interruptions or delays, but when Dr. Richard Hill revealed his independent review of the situation on Wednesday he said it was much harder finding out how many students might have been impacted by the slowdowns.

“We don’t know how many were indirectly impacted,” said Hill, who runs the National Center for Improvement of Education Assessment

Hill pushed the Board of Education to invalidate a total of 1,388 ISTEP scores, including 1,101 Math scores and 287 ELA scores. The scores were chosen if the content tests were completed in either too little time or too much time.

“We do have some students that we’re going to consider their scaled scores to be invalid because of the interruptions during their content test,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz. “And their performance was not what it should have been.”

In all cases, parents will learn exactly where their children stand.

“All parents will get reports for their students and those reports will show all scores in every single content area, I was insistent upon that,” Ritz said. “But we do have those students that I just identified, that will have an invalid, scaled total score.”

Even with some scores thrown out, Dr. Hill says data from local schools and testing company McGraw Hill show virtually no impact on overall test scores. In many cases, Hill pointed out that state averages went up, though nobody knows what that might mean.

“Is it feasible that the scores would have gone up higher?” asked board member David Freitas.

“Yes,” Hill answered.

“The point is well taken,” Ritz said. “We will never, ever know how our students would have performed had we not had the interruptions.”

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