Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Several Schools Suspend ISTEP+ For Day After Glitch Slows Online Tests

    Screenshot from CTB/McGraw Hill Website

    An error message online from Indiana's online testing provider, CTB/McGraw Hill, taken at 11:42 a.m. Eastern. We first took a screenshot of this error message at 11:03 a.m.

    UPDATED, 5:15 p.m. — Multiple Indiana school districts, including Indianapolis Public Schools and South Bend Community Schools, suspended ISTEP+ testing for the day after students experienced problems with the testing website.

    StateImpact confirmed with representatives at MSD Wayne Township, Brownsburg Community Schools and Culver Community Schools that students there won’t continue testing today. A representative of Fort Wayne Community Schools confirmed the district’s schools are “having issues” with testing.

    The problem is likely more widespread, though. Messages on an email listserv of school technology directors suggest the problem spans the state, and reports from Twitter suggest other schools are halting administration of the test too.

    “Kids are getting kicked out of their testing procedure, then when we try to get them back in, there are long waits,” says Brad Schuldt, superintendent of Culver Community Schools. He says two grades in his district were able to complete testing, but students who were scheduled to test in the afternoon will not take the test today.

    Brownsburg Community Schools communications coordinator Donna Petrait says her district has suspended testing and sent students back to class.

    “We prefer to put them back in the classroom and proceed with testing when we have some assurance that whatever the issue is has been taken care of,” Petrait said.

    “We have received calls regarding schools experiencing excessive Please Wait screens. We are investigating,” an ISTEP+ status page from CTB read at 12:32 p.m. Eastern. “Reboot the workstation(s). If students are able to log back in and complete the test, please do so.”

    UPDATE, 5:15 p.m. Eastern: The error message remains posted, as of this update, on the ISTEP+ online testing status page from CTB.

    Indiana Department of Education’s Daniel Altman told StateImpact:

    This morning, there was a technical error on the server of the company that administers the ISTEP test. This error caused some students to have their tests interrupted. The company has told us their engineers are working to resolve the issue. They expect that it’ll be fixed in time for schools to give the test tomorrow morning…

    We are looking at potentially extending the test window. Obviously, we will work with local schools to make sure that they’re able to administer a fair test.

    A representative for CTB/McGraw Hill also got in touch.

    “We spent a better part of today looking into the situation, zeroing in on the root cause. We expect everything to be back up and running tomorrow and students can be picking up exactly where they left off,” CTB/McGraw Hill spokesperson Brian Belardi said in a voicemail message, referring further comment to the Indiana Department of Education.

    From Twitter:

    UPDATE, 5:15 p.m. Eastern: More from Twitter…

    UPDATE, 5:50 p.m.: Earlier today, we heard from Jim Hunt, the network services manager for the Northwestern School Corporation outside of Kokomo. We wanted to hold off on posting his email message to StateImpact until the testing company, CTB/McGraw Hill, had a chance to comment. Hunt wrote:

    It is very frustrating. This is the third year for online testing and local school IT staff have spent countless hours preparing workstations to meet CTB requirements… only to have CTB fail on their end.  It is very hard to fit testing into the limited window.  Students who have tested are not supposed to interact with other students who have not.

    UPDATE, 6:25 p.m.: Call me late to the party, but here’s the memo posted earlier today on the CTB testing portal about the glitch.


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