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State Education Board Weighs Legal Action Over Latest ISTEP Snafu

Alberto G.

The State Board of Education thinks there are serious consequences to the latest problems in grading the ISTEP exam, and is even considering taking legal action against the test’s maker, even though it’s unclear how successful such action would be.

Last month, the makers of the ISTEP-plus exam, CTB, announced grading the assessment would take longer than anticipated, thanks to the time needed to take to correct certain answers originally marked as incorrect on select open-ended questions.

And since the ISTEP exam is used to help assign A-F school grades, that means schools will have to wait even longer to find out their scores.

The re-grading is simply the latest chapter in the ISTEP’s troubled history. Two years ago, CTB was forced to repay the state $3 million after a computerized version of the test encountered multiple problems.

Department of Education Spokesman Dan Altman says the DOE’s legal staff is taking considering its options.

"In the past, there have been issues," he says. "You’d reference 2013 -- there were provisions in the contract that provided for that. So there has been a history with this company as far as when there have been issues with their administration and a way to work through that."

But because this year’s ISTEP was the last one covered by CTB’s contract, it’s still murky whether the state can charge another fine for delayed scores.

CTB President Ellen Haley blamed the grading problems on the state’s new education standards, which she says were put in place hastily and left the company no time to test the new material that contributed to the latest problems.

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