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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.

StateImpact Photo Illustration by Kyle Stokes

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.

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