Technical issues force region school districts to suspend ISTEP testing

2013-04-29T17:32:00Z 2013-04-30T11:59:05Z Technical issues force region school districts to suspend ISTEP testingChelsea Schneider Kirk chelsea.schneider@nwi.com, (219) 933-3241 nwitimes.com

Some local school districts were forced to postpone online ISTEP+ testing Monday after students had problems logging onto the exam and being kicked out of the system.

Computer issues were reported across the state with the Indiana Department of Education estimating 27,000 students being affected. Locally, school officials from Valparaiso Community Schools, School City of Hammond and School Town of Munster confirmed the districts had to suspend the exam.

Reports also indicated the Crown Point Community School Corp. had issues as well.

“We experienced a lot of interruptions and finally just disconnected from the technology system used to administer the ISTEP+ test,” Valparaiso Community Schools Superintendent Mike Berta said. “Across the district, there's no school I'm aware of that did not experience the interruptions.”

IDOE spokesman Daniel Altman said the issues that arose Monday were tied to the server of the company that administers the test for the state. The contractor, CTB McGraw-Hill LLC, had engineers working on the issues, and the company expected to resolve them in time for testing to resume Tuesday, Altman said.

Berta said, as of Monday afternoon, the district had not received information testing was ready to go for Tuesday.

“I become concerned that with interruptions like this that students will lose focus on the test, and for high stakes testing like ISTEP, there is a lot of effort to get the kids prepared both academically and psychologically to participate in the testing environment,” Berta said.

School City of Hammond postponed testing district-wide Monday morning because of issues with students logging onto the test and long delays, Technology Director Ken Benich said.

“We are telling our schools to proceed as normal (Tuesday) assuming that the state is going to fix the issue,” Benich said.

School Town of Munster will alter its testing schedule after Monday's delays, said Maureen Stafford, the district's director of instructional programs and assessment. Stafford said since the district's middle school and fifth-grade students have laptops, the two grade levels the school would need to reschedule for computer labs were third- and fourth-graders.

“You just have to go with using a backup schedule and being prepared and making sure you are prepared to do some quick rescheduling,” Stafford said.

Testing went on as planned in the Gary Community School Corp. on Monday after employees were advised to limit online activity to ensure kids weren't kicked off from the test, district spokeswoman Charmella Greer said.

Across the state, testing was halted in districts including Indianapolis, Carmel, West Lafayette and Brownsburg. Schools in Shelby and Tippecanoe counties also reported problems.

The ISTEP+ exam is administered to students in the third through eighth grades.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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