The Journal Gazette
Thursday, December 03, 2015 2:39 am

CTB/McGraw Hill warns of ISTEP delay

Niki Kelly | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS - Testing vendor CTB/McGraw Hill warned the State Board of Education Wednesday that ISTEP scores will be delayed - again.

Company president Ellen Haley said problems with scoring technology-enhanced items new to the test is the cause.

But CTB has a spotty history with Indiana, including testing malfunctions and delays in 2013 that resulted in penalties against the company and late test scores to students and parents.

"Girls and boys and teachers are being damaged by the ineffective practices of your company," Board member Steve Yager said. "(CTB) has not delivered time after time after time."

Before the news, the timeline planned was for the board to approve cut scores for the new test in September. Then ISTEP score results would come out in mid-November and A-F accountability grades would be assigned to schools in December.

With the new delay, students and parents likely won't see scores until mid-December and A-F grades won't be assigned to schools until January or February. Those accountability grades feed into teacher evaluations and pay. They also affect some voucher and charter school decisions.

Board member Gordon Hendry said the panel is seeing the ripple effect of decisions made last year.

Lawmakers - supported by Gov. Mike Pence - removed Indiana from using Common Core standards. Instead the state quickly created its own unique academic standards, which resulted in a brand new test. Last-second changes to the length of the test earlier this year also contributed to problems.

Haley said 100 of the technology-enabled items were not scored properly. These items require a student to do more than check a box. They might have to drag and drop; reorder concepts, match items or other tasks.

She said essentially that CTB didn't anticipate all the possible ways students could get a correct answer on 100 of the questions.

But she said it was simply part of a test development process, and said the kids were very creative with their answers.

"This will ensure validity and reliability," Haley said. "I don't think it's a failing on our part."

She said the problems are due to the "nature of switching so dramatically. You started over again." 

But board members disagreed, asking Superintendent of Public INstruction Glenda Ritz to review CTB's contract with the state for possible penalties and damages.

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