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ISTEP glitches impact local schools

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Online delays frustrate students in high-stakes test

By VINCE LUECKE
Editor

PERRY COUNTY – Two Perry County school systems are taking a wait-and-see stance after a tumultuous period of administering ISTEP exams that stressed students, teachers and administrators.

“I wish I could start off by saying ISTEP went fine,” William Tell Elementary School Principal Laura Noble said in prefacing her remarks at the May 14 meeting of the Tell City-Troy Township School Board. “But I can’t.”

The online computer system designed to handle Indiana’s ISTEP assessment test was glitch-filled when testing began in late April. The state’s vendor, CTB/McGraw-Hill, said its system could not handle the volume of students taking the exam. Locally, that meant students taking the exam were frustrated by slow speeds, crashes and other problems.

Noble said some children were nearly in tears. The school extended its window for administering tests but Noble said she questions the reliability of the results because of the impact on students.
Educators across Indiana have voiced concerns about the validity of scores, which not only assess students’ mastery of what they have been taught in the classroom, but help determine school rankings and merit pay for teachers

She called online testing conditions for the high-stakes test “very frustrating” and said she appreciated the patience of students and staff members.

Even when the program was running normally after days of issues, Noble said some students already “felt deflated.”

It was much the same story at Perry Central, where students also faced frustrations. Schools Superintendent Mary Roberson said the state has told districts that it will work with them in trying to deterine the impact of scores for students whose tests were interrupted.

Fort Wayne Community Schools, Indiana’s largest school district, has said it won’t accept results of this year’s standardized testing unless an independent third party validates them.

Work Session

The Tell City-Troy Township School Corp. will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday for a work session. On the agenda is a review of school board policies and possible updates and revision. The meeting is open to the public.