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IN extends ISTEP testing window after online problems

State Superintendent Glenda Ritz says the ISTEP testing schedule has been extended three days after two straight days of statewide glitches this week. 

Both CTB/McGraw Hill, the testing company, and Superintendent Glenda Ritz report no problems with online ISTEP exams Wednesday. Tens of thousands of students Monday and Tuesday couldn’t complete their tests due to technical problems.  Under guidance from Ritz, schools reduced their testing load to 50%, so if a school had scheduled two grades to take the exams, only one would.

Ritz says that could continue beyond Wednesday. Also, the state and the testing company are constantly monitoring what’s being described as a “fluid situation.”

“They did several fixes [Tuesday] night so we may, at some point, say, ‘Hey, we think that we can handle full load,’ and go back to that capacity.”

But if schools continue at 50% capacity, the three days of extended testing won’t be enough…and with both the end of the school years approaching and other exams like End of Course Assessments approaching, the window of opportunity is shrinking. 

Monday’s glitches were due to a problem with memory on the servers of CTB/McGraw Hill.  Tuesday’s problems were a result of an overload of the system.  Members of the State Board are now questioning the validity of the ISTEP tests, which as Ritz points out, play a major role in school performance grades and teacher accountability.

“We’ll be meeting with CTB, we’ll be talking about validity of the questions.  That is a prime concern; it is a very high stakes test in Indiana.”

“Certainly we’re going to be looking at our contractual obligations…their contractual obligations regarding that,” she says. “I haven’t really delved into that yet – my primary concern is that we get all the student assessments completed.”

Ritz says the state Department of Education will continue to work closely with the testing company and schools to ensure the tests go forward without further issues.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.