A long and disturbing test period ends Friday for Indiana students in grades 3 through 8. That’s the close of the ISTEP+ testing window, which was lengthened to compensate for the test vendor’s failure to deliver enough computer capacity.
The longer testing window raises new problems for scoring the tests. They must be weighted to account for more instructional time. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz said earlier this month that a third party is likely needed to review the final scores.
The general public and you, rightfully so, will feel the testing this year is not valid, Ritz said. So we are going to be wrestling with the validity of test scores.
Students attempting to take the test on April 29 encountered failure notices. Some teachers reported children in tears over interruptions; others said frustrated students seemed to lose interest in giving their full attention to the tests and instead hurried to finish them.
The testing fiasco lies squarely with vendor CTB/McGraw-Hill, which has a $95 million, four-year contract to develop, administer and score the tests, which serve as the basis for third-grade promotion, school letter grades, teacher evaluation and more.
The problems also provide fuel for critics of the Common Core State Standards, a set of national academic standards for which an online assessment is now being developed. Indiana lawmakers voted last month to delay further implementation of the standards pending more study. Count on opponents to point out the problems administering ISTEP+ as another reason to abandon Common Core.
Fort Wayne Community Schools board members will consider contracts today for the full renovation of Harrison Hill Elementary School and Memorial Park Middle School, part of the $119 million building project approved by voters in a referendum a year ago. Earlier, the board awarded a bid for a portion of the work at Snider High School.
In all, 34 buildings will see improvements from the project.
Commencement season is under way. IPFW will honor its graduates Wednesday at Memorial Coliseum, and Indiana Tech’s ceremony is Saturday at the Coliseum.
The University of Saint Francis and Ivy Tech both held commencement exercises earlier this month.
The fair weather means it’s road construction season. One of the more noticeable projects will cause lane closures on West Jefferson Boulevard beginning Tuesday and continuing for 30 days, if the weather cooperates. The street will be reduced by one lane in each direction between Randall and Reckeweg roads for a road-widening project.
The increasing number of road construction zones and detours leads to traffic jams and headaches for motorists. But the results of the projects are usually worth the temporary inconvenience.