Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Department Of Education Considers Legal Action Over ISTEP+ Delays

Updated 11:26 a.m.:

Indiana Department of Education spokesman Daniel Altman says he cannot confirm that the department is pursuing any type of legal action against testing company CTB, but says the department is “looking at and assessing what our options are under the contract” with CTB.

Altman adds that the IDOE’s legal team will likely take a look at (among other things) a part of the contract about liquidated damages.

Remember, the state is still waiting to receive scores from the 2014 test – so taking much further action would be speculative at this point.

A public information officer for the Indiana Attorney General’s office says it’s routine for state agencies to pursue legal action or suit against vendors who don’t hold up their end of a contract, although their office had not heard that the IDOE was planning to do anything.

Original story (from Network Indiana): 

Indiana students take a number of tests that are either summative or formative in nature. (Photo Credit: David Hartman/Flickr)

Indiana students take a number of tests that are either summative or formative in nature. (Photo Credit: David Hartman/Flickr)

State Superintendent Glenda Ritz’s office might pursue a fine for the maker of the ISTEP+ over its latest problem in grading the exam, though it isn’t yet clear whether the state has any recourse.

Executives from CTB (the former CTB/McGraw-Hill) announced at last month’s State Board of Education meeting that they would re-grade some ISTEP+ tests administered last school year to correct what were initially marked as incorrect answers on some open-ended questions.

The delay means ISTEP scores will likely not be available until December according to the company, which could push the distribution of A-to-F grades for the 2014-15 school year as late as February 2016.

“Once you have ISTEP grades, there is a lot more process to go through,” said Daniel Altman, spokesman for the Department of Education. “It pushes the calendar back for ISTEP+ grades and other information schools are looking for.”

In 2013, when ISTEP was plagued with problems during the administration of the exam that mostly had to do with computer servers not being able to handle the online testing load, CTB had to repay $3 million to the state for the delays, only a small portion of its $95 million, four-year contract. This spring’s ISTEP was the last one to be given by CTB before the expiration of the contract, so it isn’t clear whether the state can assess another fine for the delayed scores.

“That’s something we are taking a look at. We are having our legal staff take a look at the contract to see what options are available to the state,” Altman said.

CTB would likely fight any attempt to recoup money they have already been paid for ISTEP+. At the State Board meeting last month, company president Ellen Haley essentially blamed the grading problems on the state’s new education standards and the creation of a new ISTEP to adhere to those standards. The quick change caused ISTEP+ to be longer in length since test questions could not be tried out in practice exams and weeded out before the actual ISTEP took place. Haley also says the company didn’t have a chance to test their new grading guidelines, which she says did not foresee the way some students answered technology-based questions.


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