Report: ISTEP disruptions had no impact on scores

INDIANAPOLIS - An outside review of online glitches that disrupted Indiana's ISTEP testing this spring concludes those problems had no measurable negative impact on students' scores, even though they affected nearly a third of the students who took the test.

"It does appear, looking at the data, that the net impact of the interruptions was nil. Students scored about as well as they would have done had no interruptions occurred. That may come as a surprise to many," said educational researcher Richard Hill.

The report released Monday by the Indiana Department of Education shows nearly 143,000 students in grades three through eight had at least one part of their test interrupted when server glitches kicked them offline. That's about 29 percent of all students who took the test.

But the National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment found that the statewide impact of the glitches on student scores wasn't measurable.

Hill said proving that an individual or even a single classroom was hurt by delays will be very difficult.

"I'm not optimistic about being successful there, because we are truly looking for a needle in a haystack.  When a student, when a student, when the average student grows 15 points from one year to the next and there's a student that's only grown two points, there are a myriad of reasons why that could have happened," Hill said.

The report concluded that the slight increases in overall scores seen between 2012 and this year were on par with other years.

Superintendent Glenda Ritz thanked students and teachers for overcoming the annoying delays and producing good results. But because the scores were being used to evaluate teachers and calculate their pay, she will give districts the flexibility to reduce that impact for this one year.

"There is no mandate. It is up to the individual school districts to look at that. You've got Lawrence Township, who had 47 percent disruptions. They may look at this differently than another district who had, you know, two percent disruption," Ritz said.

Despite the findings, CTB/McGraw Hill was not off the hook and Ritz was negotiating a financial penalty with the company that was recently forced to pay $1.3 million to Oklahoma for delays.

Follow Norman Cox on Twitter: @normancox6

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