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Executive apologizes for ISTEP testing problems

The head of the testing company that administers Indiana’s benchmark standardized test issued a public apology Friday, nearly two months after two separate server problems halted online ISTEP exams statewide.

Noting that CTB/McGraw-Hill has employees in Indianapolis, company president Ellen Haley answered questions from lawmakers on the General Assembly’s education committees on the floor of the State Senate.

“I have family here in Indiana, and so do all the employees here obviously. It was very disappointing to have this happen and have this impact schoolchildren in Indiana. Please accept my sincere apologies and regret that anything at all happened.

Haley spoke on the same day officials in the Indiana Department of Education announced they would seek at least $613,000 in damages from the company because of the disruptions — penalties that would pay for a New Hampshire-based testing expert to determine whether state officials should allow use of the results for rating schools and evaluating teachers.  

State lawmakers do not play a role in handing down those fines.  While Haley said it was too early to address the financial penalties, she did say in her testimony that the company’s contract with the state covers more services than the ISTEP exam alone. 

House Education Committee Chair Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis) says he thought CTB officials were forthcoming, but says he still is looking for answers.

“They probably brought up maybe more questions than some resolutions at this point in time. We’re going to have to wait for the validity studies are  done.”

State officials say that validity study should be ready within about three weeks.

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