Chesterton Tribune



State computer problems hit ISTEP testing at Duneland for a second day

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“It’s a mess,” Duneland Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Monte Moffett told the Chesterton Tribune this morning.

The school’s technology staff reported to Moffett shortly after 10 a.m. this morning that students taking the ISTEP+ online assessment were getting “bumped off” the system.

Duneland was one of many school districts across the state Monday affected by a “glitch” in the server that resulted in a suspension of the test.

The Indiana Department of Education estimated some 27,000 students statewide experienced the glitch Monday.

CTB McGraw-Hill LLC, the company the state hired to administer the test, gave an all clear to begin testing again first thing this morning and students could begin where they left off. But, after receiving “an increased incidence of interruptions,” CTB reported on its website that testing would be suspended until 12:30 p.m. eastern time today.

Schools received e-mails overnight that reported the glitch stemmed from a problem with CTB’s memory configuration with its ISTEP+ servers.

Meanwhile, the Department of Education has extended the window for schools to complete the online testing to May 15, three extra school days beyond the original deadline. Pencil and paper exams will follow the original schedule, the DOE said.

Moffett said the snafus have been “frustrating” since they began occurring at about 9 a.m. Monday. The anxiety could affect student performance on the tests which is important since the state uses scoring data to determine what a teacher’s salary will be and if they can retain their teaching licenses.

“It is absolutely inappropriate to have these difficulties,” Moffett said. “If you don’t have a good testing environment, how can you use that data?”

Moffett said grades three through eight are the ones taking the ISTEP. Only the 5th graders at Liberty Intermediate are taking the test with paper and pencil and all Duneland school buildings have been affected, he said.

Duneland Superintendent of Schools Dirk Baer said the corporation works to help the students be mentally ready for the exam and not be overly stressed.

“We tell our students to rest up, have a good breakfast, getting them psychologically prepared to take the test as best we can,” Baer said.

Baer said once the glitch was reported to him, he sent emails to neighboring school districts asking if they had similar problems. Schools around Northwest Indiana seemed to have all been affected, he said.

Others reporting troubles were the Valparaiso Schools, Crown Point schools and schools in the cities of Hammond and Muster.

Moffett said school districts in Indianapolis and Lafayette had also indicated students were being kicked off. He believes the DOE’s estimate of 27,000 students having problems is low.

Moffett said as long as the problems get resolved today, Duneland should be able to complete testing by May 15.



Posted 4/30/2013