Expert panel finds no evidence glitch impacted ISTEP scores

By Andi TenBarge
TheStatehouseFile.com

INDIANAPOLIS – The investigation into a computer glitch found no evidence that students were mistakenly given lower scores on the spring 2015 ISTEP exam, but officials say the results don’t guarantee that each student was scored accurately on the exam.

Earlier this month, an Indianapolis Star article revealed that the computer glitch might have changed students’ scores on test questions. Seven scoring supervisors from ISTEP+ assessment vendor CTB McGraw-Hill told The Star the issue was widespread enough that rescoring was an option, but management decided against it.

After the report by The Star, the Indiana Department of Education and staff for the State Board of Education asked for the ISTEP results to be analyzed.

“I am pleased that independent assessment experts found no evidence that the scoring process used by CTB McGraw-Hill negatively impacted student scores,” said State Superintendent Glenda Ritz in a statement. “Unfortunately, due to the high-stakes nature of the ISTEP+ assessment, any doubt about testing validity causes a ripple effect through our schools and our communities.”

The Star’s report wasn’t the first concern about scoring. A separate scoring issue was addressed after State Board of Education members heard from the Department of Education and CTB/McGraw Hill during a regularly scheduled August meeting about problems with the test’s scoring.

“We need to add the all possible ways of expressing the answer,” said Ellen Haley President of McGraw-Hill Education CTB during the August meeting. “It is fascinating to see the children and we can express it in many different ways they really worked hard and they found maybe ten more ways and we want to give them credit.”

Now Ritz and Pence are turning to the Indiana General Assembly to ensure that this year’s potentially lower scores, from a new test with different standards, do not unfairly penalize teachers and schools.

“I still firmly believe that the 2015 ISTEP+ results should not be used to penalize teachers or schools,” Ritz said in a statement. “Now more than ever, it is imperative that Indiana legislative and education leadership support a hold harmless approach for our teachers and our schools.”

“While the results of the report are encouraging, the governor will continue to listen to local educators and school leaders to inform his discussions with the Indiana General Assembly,” said Pence spokesman, Matt Lloyd in a statement. “The governor appreciates that this is a transition year and he will continue to work with legislative leaders to ensure that test scores do not affect teacher bonuses or compensation and that schools are treated fairly.”

Andi TenBarge is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news site powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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