INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Required standardized tests for Indiana students will
resume Wednesday after two days of computer glitches, but state officials
asked schools to cut their normal test loads by half to avoid more
The Indiana Department of Education issued a statement Tuesday evening
saying the decision to resume the ISTEP+ exams was "based upon assurances
made by CTB McGraw Hill," the state's test vendor.
"In order to prevent further issues, the DOE is asking schools to decrease
their daily test load to 50 percent of their normal levels until further
notice. The DOE will work with local schools to ensure that they have the
time they need to fairly administer the test," the statement says.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz ordered testing halted
earlier Tuesday after schools in Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Carmel,
Lafayette and other areas reported issues accessing the online portion of
the exams. The directive came a day after 27,000 students struggled to
connect and complete the test.
Ritz called the problems "unacceptable."
"All of our students deserve to take a test that is valid, accurate and
reliable," she said in a statement.
The glitches sparked concerns about the impact on students and teachers.
The Indiana State Teachers Association issued a statement Tuesday saying
it wanted proof from Indiana officials that problems with the exam won't
hurt teachers. The union noted that recent changes in state law have tied
ISTEP+ results to school ratings, individual teacher evaluations and
Rocky Killion, superintendent of West Lafayette Community Schools, said
the problems cast doubt on the validity of the test results.
"We will not get an accurate picture of how well students are doing," he
told the Journal & Courier.
This is the third straight year that students in grades three through
eight taking the online portion of the exam have encountered problems, The
Indianapolis Star reported.
CBT/McGraw-Hill had initially reported all testing systems were running
fine Tuesday. But it changed its status as students began logging in and
connection problems arose, urging schools to suspend testing until 12:30
Ritz said about 150,000 test sessions were completed by 11 a.m. but that
interruptions spiked a short time later.
Indianapolis Public Schools spokesman John Althardt said the problems were
"There is so much buildup and expectation and anticipation about what the
test means that any disruptions in the schedule and rhythm of testing for
our students is frustrating for us," he said. "We feel we've done our best
to prepare our students and schools and then when we're unable to conduct
this testing. It's a source of frustration."
In 2011, up to 10,000 students statewide were logged off and some were
unable to log back in for up to an hour while taking the test. The state
invalidated 215 scores that year because they were lower than expected.
About 9,000 students were kicked offline during the test last year.
Carol Stream, Ill.-based McGraw-Hill administers the exam under a
four-year, $95 million contract with the Indiana Department of Education.
The contract runs through June 2014.
The contract requires McGraw-Hill to provide "uninterrupted" computer
availability every school day from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. for the two weeks
prior to each testing window, as well as for the entire testing window.