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Last-Minute Validity Questions Delay ISTEP Pass/Fail Threshold Decision

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Alberto G.
/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/albertogp123/

The State Board of Education has put off setting the so-called “cut scores” for passing ISTEP after last-minute concerns about the test's validity.

Students who do ISTEP on paper receive a slightly different test from those who do it on computer.

The Indiana Department of Education’s director of student assessment says she's "100-percent confident" the scores are comparable across formats. But a department memo raised enough concerns that the board Wednesday agreed to delay a decision on cut scores till October 28, while it consults test experts and testmaker CTB McGraw-Hill.

State Board of Education member Sarah O’Brien says the board needs the results of an independent advisory committee’s review, not just assurances from CTB.

“Looking solely at the CTB report is looking at a McDonald’s report saying that they have the best hamburger in the world,” O’Brien says. “I mean, to justify such a huge decision to the field, we need to be

able to say that we have this unbiased information stating that we are on track.”

Board members complain the memo warning of potential problems was drafted October 2, but wasn't passed along to them or an advisory panel until Tuesday night, hours before Wednesday's board meeting.

Board member Gordon Hendry criticizes what he calls "another October surprise," and says it will cause needless confusion among teachers and parents.

“This further delay and confusion really does a disservice to our teachers and our schoolchildren, as well as our parents,” Hendry says. “It’s just very disappointing that this has arisen.”

The department's proposed cut scores would mean failing grades for 9-to-27-percent of test takers on the math portion of the test, depending on grade level. 10-to-25-percent of language arts test takers would miss the cutoff.

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