Online ISTEP+ Testing Begins Monday; Officials Hope Not Repeat Of Last Year
By Mike Perleberg
(Indianapolis, Ind.) – Online ISTEP+ testing begins Monday in Indiana, but there are concerns whether the computer-based portion of the testing will go smoothly.
The applied skills written portion of the ISTEP+ for grades 3-8 was held March 3-21. Schools districts have a window of April 28-May 13 for the test’s online multiple choice portion, or April 28-May 9 for schools who conduct the multiple choice portion using the old-fashioned method: paper and pencil.
Last year during Spring testing, servers at ISTEP+ test administrator CTB/McGraw-Hill crashed from the large number of students testing at one time.
That caused interruptions for about 80,000 test-taking 3rd through 8th graders across the state. Lawrenceburg Community Schools had one of the highest rates of students affected by the server failure: 35-percent of test-takers, or 303 students. Several other local school districts were also affected to some extent.
In turn, tests had to be rescheduled and some education officials began to question the validity of the test scores.
Although CTB/McGraw Hill vowed to ensure such an interruption does not occur again, there have been some recent instances that are cause for concern. This week, students in some parts of Indiana faced disruptions during practice testing.
In Oklahoma last week, students taking that state’s online standardized test – also by CTB/McGraw-Hill – experienced problems similar to those last year in Indiana. In a statement to The Indianapolis Star, Indiana Department of Education spokesman Daniel Altman said the department is aware of what occurred in Oklahoma.
“It appears that testing has gone smoothly since the initial interruptions on Monday. In addition, our technology and assessment teams are reaching out to Oklahoma and working with CTB to ensure that CTB is ready when ISTEP starts next week,” Altman said.
The spokesman also said that the IDOE’s assessment team has been working with schools to ensure that their networks are ready for testing and that CTB/McGraw-Hill has engineers available for on-site support.
The Star reports that the IDOE has received 21 calls about computer issues with the online practice test.
Last year’s ISTEP+ testing issues prompted the IDOE and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz to seek $613,000 from CTB/McGraw-Hill.