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Ritz Promises ISTEP Investigation

Last updated on Thursday, May 2, 2013

(INDIANAPOLIS) - There were no problems Wednesday in the administration of the ISTEP exam after testing was suspended due to computer problems on two consecutive days.

Jim Shella of WISH TV8 reports that steps were being taken to avoid new problems. First, the state Department of Education asked schools to reduce the number of students taking the test online by half.

Then, the Indianapolis Public Schools told teachers stop giving the test between 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., the peak time period statewide.

Employees of CTB McGraw Hill, the state contractor that supplies the ISTEP test, were on hand Wednesday in offices of the Department of Education monitoring the computer system that became overloaded on Monday and Tuesday.

The problems caused members of the state Board of Education to question whether a contract has been violated and state School Superintendent Glenda Ritz emerged from a meeting to say it will be explored.

"Certainly we're going to be looking at our contractual obligations, or their contractual obligations regarding that," she said. "I haven't really delved into that yet."

Schools now have until May 15 to complete the testing but the request to have half the normal number of students online at once will remain in place.

Ritz believes the contractor can help students make up for lost time.

"They know every student, the name of the student, and who's been interrupted," she said.

The results are important not only to students but also to teachers and administrators who are all evaluated and sometimes compensated based on ISTEP results.

"It is a very high stakes test in Indiana," said Ritz, "and so we have to be very concerned about that and make sure that we can ascertain the validity of the actual student assessment."

But, first, they must actually take the test. A spokesman for IPS says it will be a major challenge to have 14,000 students complete the test by May 15. All of them will be on summer vacation, however, by the time this mess gets straightened out.

Students in grades 3-8 take the exam in more than 50 IPS schools.

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