ISTEP+ vendor to tell lawmakers what went wrong

2013-06-20T19:00:00Z 2013-06-21T00:15:27Z ISTEP+ vendor to tell lawmakers what went wrongDan Carden dan.carden@nwi.com, (317) 637-9078 nwitimes.com
June 20, 2013 7:00 pm  • 

INDIANAPOLIS | Three top executives from CTB/McGraw Hill, the company that administers the annual ISTEP+ standardized exams, are expected to explain to state lawmakers Friday why at least 78,269 Hoosier students experienced test interruptions in April and May.

The inability of CTB/McGraw Hill computer servers to handle the load of online test takers is believed to be the cause of the interruptions, which delayed testing for students in Northwest Indiana and across the state.

Senate President David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said the Indiana Commission on Education, a bipartisan panel of 25 lawmakers from the House and Senate, is committed to finding out what happened and how to prevent it from reoccurring.

"We need to get it right, and we intend to. What happened can't be tolerated," Long said. "I think there's an answer. We don't know what it is yet. But one way or another, next year our kids should not go through this again."

The CTB/McGraw Hill leaders slated to testify before the commission, starting at noon region time in the Senate chamber, are President Ellen Haley, Chief Digital Officer Stephen Laster and Richard Patz, vice president of engineering, research and development.

The company previously apologized for the test interruptions and vowed to correct the issues.

Glenda Ritz, the Democratic state superintendent for public instruction, said she is reviewing the state's contract with the testing company, particularly the sections allowing Indiana to seek damages for test interruptions.

Ritz also has hired an outside consultant to review the validity of student results on the interrupted tests — a move supported by Long and House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis.

Four Northwest Indiana lawmakers serve on the commission investigating ISTEP+ interruptions. They are state Sens. Frank Mrvan, D-Hammond, and Earline Rogers, D-Gary, and state Reps. Vernon Smith, D-Gary, and Shelli VanDenburgh, D-Crown Point.

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