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ISTEP+ vendor: No money for Indiana, just credits

INDIANAPOLIS – Negotiations between the state and CTB/McGraw-Hill over widespread disruptions in last year’s online ISTEP+ tests are continuing, but it’s unlikely that the state will recoup cash despite its initial assertions it wanted more than $600,000 for the problems.

Instead, McGraw-Hill Education spokesman Brian Belardi told The Indianapolis Star (http://indy.st/1ik6QG8) that the damages will be covered by credits for ongoing, past and future services.

CTB/McGraw-Hill is in the final year of a four-year, $95 million contract with the state to administer the high-stakes test.

Under the contract, CTB/McGraw-Hill is required to provide uninterrupted computer availability every school day from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. for the two weeks before each testing window, as well as for the entire testing window.

If the company fails to perform, DOE is entitled to collect $50,000 per day for each of the first five days, $150,000 for each of the next five days and $250,000 a day thereafter until the situation is resolved, according to the contract.

A report released in July found about 80,000 students in third through eighth grade had at least one part of the statewide standardized test interrupted when server glitches from CTB/McGraw-Hill kicked them offline. That’s about 16 percent of all students who took the test.

The report determined that the interruptions had little effect on the scores but recommended about 1,400 results be thrown out to avoid tainting the other test scores.

The scores are used in calculating teacher pay and school funding, as well as school grades under the state’s “A-F” system. The disruptions contributed to a months-long delay in the rollout of the scores last year.

Several districts chose to use to paper tests and others shifted to them after experiencing problems with the online portion of this year’s ISTEP+ exam.

Indiana Department of Education spokesman Daniel Altman said no agreement has been reached yet on the amount that CTB/McGraw-Hill will compensate the state for last year’s glitches.

“We are still working toward a settlement,” Altman said. “We are confident that the matter will be settled in a way that is beneficial for Hoosier taxpayers.”

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