Indiana

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Ritz: Disputed ISTEP Results Should Not Weigh Heavily In Teacher Evaluations

State Supt. Glenda Ritz takes questions from reporters after the July 19, 2013, State Board of Education meeting.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

State Supt. Glenda Ritz takes questions from reporters after the July 19, 2013, State Board of Education meeting.

Schools, students and parents will soon know if scores on state standardized tests are valid after computer glitches grounded ISTEP testing to a halt this spring.

State Superintendent Glenda Ritz says the third party evaluator the Indiana Department of Education hired to review the validity of ISTEP scores is also reviewing testing company CTB/McGraw-Hill’s analysis of the results.

Ritz says she expects to receive testing expert Richard Hill’s preliminary report sometime next week.

ISTEP scores are important because they’re used in determining school letter grades and teacher pay. The 2012-13 school year was the first year the state mandated teacher evaluations, and Ritz told the State Board of Education Friday whatever the results, she doesn’t think scores on disrupted tests should weigh heavily into the calculations this year.

“It is a heavy burden on the state of Indiana to have to deal with this issue,” says Ritz. “It is unacceptable. Really because it is unacceptable, it’s unacceptable for teachers to be evaluated in a large part on that particular piece.”

She says her department has issued guidance to schools reducing the impact of test score data in the state’s teacher evaluation model, called RISE. Because evaluations are set at the local level, Ritz says districts using other teacher evaluation systems could also minimize how ISTEP data is used to determine merit pay.

But several State Board members questioned whether the IDOE had acted prematurely.

“I feel like we’re throwing out the whole batch of cookies,” says State Board member Cari Whicker, who teaches sixth grade in Huntington County . “We haven’t even tasted them to see if they’re burnt.”

Ritz says the plan is to present the results of the validity study at the July 29 meeting of the legislative study committee investigating the ISTEP glitches.

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