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Problems With Practice Test Haven’t Eased Indiana Schools’ ISTEP+ Fears

In 2013, server issues at testing company CTB/McGraw-Hill disrupted thousands of Indiana students' online ISTEP+ exams.

In 2013, server issues at testing company CTB/McGraw-Hill disrupted thousands of Indiana students' online ISTEP+ exams.

Indiana schools preparing for next week’s spring ISTEP+ test reported problems with an online practice exam Tuesday.

No one has forgotten the problems that plagued last year’s test. Computer glitches on testing company CTB/McGraw-Hill’s server disrupted more than 30,000 exams.

“We know what happened last year, and we don’t want that to happen again,” says Fort Wayne Community Schools spokeswoman Krista Stockman. “Seeing that Oklahoma is having issues sort of validates those fears for people.”

Stockman says many Fort Wayne students were disconnected during the practice session Tuesday designed to find any problems with the school’s technology that administers the test.

These problems come after Oklahoma suspended statewide testing Monday because of computer problems. CTB/McGraw-Hill also provides Oklahoma’s standardized test.

Bartholomew County Schools Technology Director Mike Jamerson says their students too experienced interruptions during the test, though an ISTEP+ status page from the testing company did not indicate problems.

Jamerson says after last year’s fiasco, he had representatives from CTB/McGraw-Hill visit their schools to make sure their computers could run the test and avoid these problems.

“We saw these issues even at buildings where they said ‘The infrastructure is pretty sound here we don’t see any reason you shouldn’t be able to test,’” Jamerson told StateImpact.

A CTB/McGraw-Hill spokesperson says the computer issues in Oklahoma were because of a companywide technology problem not specific to online testing. Testing in Oklahoma resumed today.

Indiana schools can begin administering ISTEP+ Monday. The two states’ testing windows overlap by about a week.

Comments

  • Comptech

    Great. Practice testing starts tomorrow at one of my schools. Can’t wait and refuse to take any blame for my technology. One wonders why CTB continues to be the provider when it has gotten worse every year.

  • Bob Eckert

    CTB has continually had problems with scaling their online Internet-based systems and their systems have many of the same problems that healthcare.gov had in the very beginning, that is, until some top-flight geeks/nerds/saviors from the high-tech field came to our rescue and now healthcare.gov runs like a scalded cat even at stratospheric numbers of simultaneously users. CTB needs to get some real talent to help them scale and those people are NOT at the regular companies who purport to know what they are doing, they are at Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Twitter and any other company that needs to scale their web services to astronomical heights. If CTB doesn’t get this fixed, they will be on the way out and left behind.

  • Karynb9

    Expect the first day of the testing window (Monday) to maybe go okay and for everyone to breathe a sigh of relief…but I know of multiple large school districts around the state that aren’t even attempting to test on Monday. They’re planning on waiting to see if other districts experience technical difficulties and letting OTHER districts discover any problems. That means everyone needs to hold off on any celebrations and declarations of success until after the system’s capacity is really tested at full-load on Tuesday.

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