INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — School districts trying to administer Indiana's
required standardized test encountered new problems Tuesday that forced
the state to suspend testing for a second straight day.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz ordered testing halted
after schools in Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Carmel, Lafayette and other
areas reported issues accessing the online portion of the ISTEP+ exam. The
directive came a day after 27,000 students struggled to connect and
complete the test.
Ritz said the issues were "unacceptable" and pledged that the Department
of Education would work with schools to ensure they have enough time to
administer the test once the problems are corrected.
"All of our students deserve to take a test that is valid, accurate and
reliable," she said in a statement.
Some school officials expressed concerns about how the problems would
impact students' scores.
"I have major questions now with the validity of ISTEP results. We will
not get an accurate picture of how well students are doing," Rocky Killion,
superintendent of West Lafayette Community Schools, told the Journal &
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.
Vendor CBT/McGraw-Hill LLC 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
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.