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NH firm to review ISTEP results

State education officials have hired a New Hampshire-based firm to review results of Indiana’s ISTEP exams after at least 78,000 students’ online tests froze in April.

The Indiana Department of Education will pay the National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment no more than $53,000 to review the results of the ISTEP exam — a review state superintendent Glenda Ritz expects to take four to five weeks.

Ritz says before testing experts at the Center can determine whether the scores are valid, they’ll have to figure out exactly how many students’ exams froze because of testing company server issues.

“Keep in mind that students were not interrupted in their entire testing: They were interrupted in perhaps a test session or two, and much of the data on their test will be accurate.”

But many teachers have said they can’t trust the results.  Officials at Fort Wayne Community Schools, the state’s largest district, have said they won’t accept the ISTEP scores unless a third party validates them.  Teacher evaluations and school letter grade ratings depend on the scores — a policy stance Ritz said again Monday she wants state leaders to rethink. 

“I’m hoping that the state of Indiana wants to reduce the high stakes attached to this test. It should be about student learning.”

Members of the Indiana General Assembly have called for representatives of testing company CTB/McGraw Hill to testify at a public hearing on the ISTEP after the results come out later this summer.