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State Officials Working To Fix ISTEP Issues

Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick (Lauren Chapman/IPB News)

The full impact of scoring issues plaguing this year’s ISTEP results remains unknown, but state officials aims to resolve the problems by the end of this week.

The test vendor for ISTEP, Pearson, raised concerns with the Indiana Department of Education last week on the scoring of some student responses.

At this month’s state board meeting, IDOE told members that up to 22,000 students could be impacted by the problem with a 10th grade math question. The department says likely only a small percent of students are impacted by the other scoring issue, for students across multiple grade levels.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick, says IDOE plans to ask Pearson to pay for its trouble.

“Obviously there will be damages that we’ll have to seek, but we don’t really know what that looks like until we know exactly what those damages are,” she says.

McCormick says problems from Pearson’s side – in addition to the department’s efforts to roll out the state’s new standardized test, the ILEARN, later this year – make it a tough situation.

“Our team in assessment works really really hard to get things right and we’re not perfect, but boy, we worked really hard to get that round correct and we’re also implementing ILEARN so it’s a very busy time for our assessment team,” McCormick says.

Officials say students impacted by the 10th grade math question could see an minor improvement of their scores if they are given credit where it wasn’t given initially. For others, the issues could result in a lower, or “undetermined” score.

But state board members adopted a resolution at their Wednesday meeting, that will allow students -- even if given an undetermined score – to count toward their school’s ISTEP participation rate, which in part determines accountability grades.

Students in third through eighth grades will take the new test ILEARN, through a new exam vendor this spring, but 10th graders will continue taking ISTEP for end of course exams until 2020.

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