The Washington Times-Herald

July 30, 2013

Local schools feel ISTEP errors

By Nate Smith Times Herald
The Washington Times-Herald

---- — The report on ISTEP testing issues statewide said Monday a sixth of the state’s students had computer trouble while taking the yearly skills test.

Locally, ISTEP testing problems were in line with many school districts throughout the state, ranging from 5 to 23 percent.

Washington schools had the largest number of students affected, 198, but 18 percent of students across the school system experienced testing problems.

The largest percentage of students who had ISTEP trouble was Barr-Reeve schools with 23 percent. According to the report, 76 students reported testing issues.

North Daviess schools had a small number of students, 27, or 5 percent, that had problems. In Martin County, Loogootee schools had 9 percent (39) of its students with test problems and Shoals reported 17 percent (44) problems. All the local school districts reported many of the issues were with the online math portion of the ISTEP.

According to the third-party report, the glitches in the computer system did not negatively affect test scores. Richard Hill, director of the National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment and the author of the report, wrote ISTEP scores went up overall despite the computer problems and students who had interruptions had larger gains than those who did not have interruptions.

One reason why, Hill wrote, might have been the work local schools did to quickly remedy the issue for their students. Such was the case at Washington and Barr-Reeve schools.

“As a staff, they did their very best to make good of a bad situation,” Barr-Reeve Superintendent Travis Madison said.

Around southwest Indiana, many interruptions were small in terms of percentage except for Vincennes schools. That district saw 50 percent of its students experience problems in taking the test. In Perry County, 41 percent of students had some type of ISTEP issue.

Local school districts have not received ISTEP scores as the state is still processing the results for schools and parents. Madison said the only results they have is from end-of-course assessments and nothing from ISTEP or school growth models and would be hard to say without the results if the glitches negatively affected Barr-Reeve.

The results from the test do figure into school accountability and teacher evaluations, but state Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz has told local districts how much weight to give the test results in evaluations.

ISTEP Interruptions Washington 198 students (18 percent) Barr-Reeve 76 students (23 percent) North Daviess 27 students (5 percent) Loogootee 39 students (9 percent) Shoals 44 students (17 percent)