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Local School Superintendents Comment on ISTEP Validating

June 11, 2013
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  06/12/13 The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) announced Monday that they have hired a third party consultant to review the validity of scores accumulated from ISTEP testing in April. Approximately 80,000 students, out of the 482,000 taking the tests, experienced interruptions by computer errors. CBT McGraw-Hill administered the tests as part of a four-year contract with the state.

Reviewing the tests validity will be Dr. Richard Hill of the National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment (NCIEA). According to the IDOE, Dr. Hill holds a Masters in Secondary Mathematics Education and a PH.D in Statistics and Measurement. The cost of the review is not expected to exceed $53,600. According to Glenna Ritz, Indiana superintendent of Public Instruction, the analysis will be completed independently from any analysis by CBT McGraw-Hill.

 Ritz said, “Like all Hoosier parents, students, and educators, I was extremely frustrated with the alarmingly high volume of test interruptions during the Indiana’s high stakes test.” Referring to the interruptions as unacceptable, Ritz said, “These results have a large effect on schools and communities. School accountability, as well as teacher compensation and evaluation are based, in part, on this data.” Ritz mentioned the term “high stakes” several times during the Monday announcement. In addition to teacher compensation, the scores are used to determine each school’s A-F accountability grade. If scores for schools continue to fall into a failing grade, schools could eventually be closed.

On April 29, the first day of testing, interruptions were reported. At that time, the IDOE extended the testing period by two days. Due to the interruptions, suspension of the testing was put in place and an extra week ending on May 17 for completing the tests was given by the IDOE. 

Marshall County administrators have indicated that they are taking a “wait and see” approach to the outside consultant’s findings. John Farthing, principal of LaVille Elementary in the Union-North Schools Corporation, said, “It (validating) is an appropriate thing to do and it’s the only logical thing to do.” He added, “I hate not to have the tests count all-but hate to be penalized if they are inaccurate.”

Triton Superintendent Donna Burroughs believes that even if the tests are validated, the effects of the interruptions were serious. Burroughs said, “The interruptions were quite an emotional experience for teachers and students.” “Validating the scores does not undo what happened.”

Brad Schuldt, superintendent of Culver Schools, said he needs to learn more about the validation process being used. “That is the big question.” Schuldt said.

 Schuldt said the printout that he, as well as all other schools received, from CBT McGraw-Hill, was not correct.  He said, “The list showed that our 4th graders had issues in Language Arts, but our teacher logs show the interruptions were all in math.” He said, “We did have a week to correct the list.” According to Schuldt, the corrections were arrived at by comparing the interruptions listed by CBT McGraw-Hill on a spreadsheet using teacher logs.

Ritz said, “Because the stakes of this test are so big, the results must be beyond reproach.”

Carol Anders Correspondent

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