Report: No negative impact on ISTEP scores after computer glitches

A review of ISTEP+ testing found that there was no measurable negative impact on statewide scores despite computer glitches that interrupted students last spring.

But, the report also states that the exact impact of the interruptions on individual, classroom and teacher level cannot be determined.

A third party, The National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment, was hired by the Indiana Department of Education to evaluate the validity of the tests.

“The net impact of the interruptions was nil,” said Richard Hill, who carried out the review. “Students scored about as well as they would have done, had no interruptions occurred. That may come as a surprise to many.”

One of those taken by surprise is the director at Xavier School of Excellence, Tania Grimes. The staff at the charter school had to deal with plenty of interruptions during testing.

“I don’t understand how we can determine school grades and growth data based on tests that were no longer standardized,” Grimes said. “They were given differently. Some schools stopped and restarted immediately. Some waited a day. It was different at schools all across Indiana.”

The number of students disrupted during testing in Michiana is well into the thousands.

In South Bend, there were 859 students affected; 507 in Penn Harris Madison; and 650 in Elkhart.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz said that she has given schools the flexibility they need to minimize the effects these tests have on various matters like teacher pay and evaluation.

“Every student deserves the opportunity to take a fair and uninterrupted assessment,” Ritz said.

Still, charts in the report indicate that student scores actually increased compared to 2012.

Grimes said that the average score results do not reflect the impact from one classroom to another.

“Testing is high stakes,” Grimes said. “There is a lot on the line for students, teachers and schools.”

Next, the Department of Education will process student reports to make them available online and calculate A-F accountability results for schools.

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