Online ISTEP testing caused several problems for schools around the state last week. The state has a four-year $90 million contract with T-C-B-McGraw-Hill to provide the capabilities to allow ISTEP testing to take place online. This is the second year in a row that students have been interrupted taking the state mandated test which has brought up questions about the validity of the testing this year. Students who were “kicked off” while testing came back the next day and had to start the test over. That’s a lot of mental pressure on the students.
Testing was halted Monday and Tuesday last week and only half of the students could take the test online on Wednesday. That caused the test completion deadline to be pushed back to May 17.
Some administrators, including West Central School Superintendent Charles Mellon, are wondering: will the students take their time to do their best or will they rush through it before the computer has issues? And because of that, how valid will these test scores be when calculated?
Mellon said issues were experienced at his corporation last week and with the delay, that causes a headache in scheduling testing for the rest of the school year.
“It’s a scheduling nightmare right now to make sure ISTEPs are done before we need the computers to do the End of Course Assessments at the high school level and they’re online as well,” stated Mellon.
Peggy Shidaker, director of curriculum and instruction at the Knox Community School Corporation, said there was a slight problem experienced at the middle school, but the issues reported around the state did not occur at Knox schools. She expressed the same test scheduling issues Superintendent Mellon referred to and hopes all can be completed within the regular school year.
State School Superintendent Glenda Ritz has stated that she‘ll wait until testing is complete to decide what weight this year’s ISTEP exam should have on school and teacher performance measures. Ritz is also deferring a review of whether the failures represent a breach of contract by test vendor T-C-B-McGraw-Hill.