EDITORIAL: ISTEP failure shouldn't pass outside test

2013-06-12T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: ISTEP failure shouldn't pass outside test nwitimes.com
June 12, 2013 12:00 am  • 

It shouldn't take long for the Indiana Department of Education's consultant to realize the obvious -- that the interrupted ISTEP+ results should be invalidated.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz said Monday she hired Richard K. Hill, chairman of The National Center for the Improvement of Education Assessment, to offer an independent analysis of whether results from this year's interrupted ISTEP+ exams should be set aside.

If the results are deemed valid, they are to be used in determining not only student placement but also teacher compensation and school ratings.

Nearly one in six students this spring saw tests interrupted by CTB-McGraw Hill computer server problems. Some interruptions lasted a few minutes, but others were much longer.

Children taking the test weren't just frustrated by the computer glitch. Many were scared as well, knowing that much is riding on the results of this test. Some rushed through the rest of the test, unsure of whether they would be able to complete it in time before another outage might occur.

While we realize there's a lot riding on this test, the glitches during testing left students rattled enough that results were surely affected.

Toss out these results as statistically invalid.

Ritz is an outspoken opponent of high-stakes testing. If it were just a matter of determining student placement, she said, the students could simply retake the test.

"I'm hoping that the state of Indiana wants to reduce the high stakes attached to this test," Ritz said.

We're hoping the Department of Education will make sure its vendor is capable of administering standardized tests to large nubmers of students without interruption.

CTB-McGraw Hill faced similar troubles in other states, not just Indiana.

Standardized tests are here to stay. States and their vendors must be prepared to administer them properly.

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