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Pearson Says They Can Avoid Technology Issues With ISTEP+

Testing company CTB McGraw Hill informed state superintendent Glenda Ritz that there are issues grading this year's ISTEP+. (Photo Credit: James Martin/Flickr)

Testing company Pearson, who will administer the ISTEP+ starting this year, updated a legislative study committee today on the transition from CTB to their company. (Photo Credit: James Martin/Flickr)

When educators and school technology experts think about the ISTEP+, technology glitches come to mind for many – especially given Indiana’s track record over the last few years.

A representative from testing company Pearson told the Interim Study Committee on Education today they will avoid such technology problems. Pearson takes over administration of the statewide assessment in 2016, since the state’s contract with test vendor CTB ended this school year.

Rich Young, VP of State Services for Pearson, updated the committee on the transition.

During his presentation, Young said last year Pearson had around 1.3 million students testing at one time and utilizing the company’s servers. If you’ll remember, when CTB administered the ISTEP+ in 2013, school districts around the state suspended testing after technology issues with online assessments prevented students from moving through the exam.

CTB said it was because their servers couldn’t handle the amount of students testing at one time. Because of these issues in 2013, CTB paid the state a $3 million settlement and Indiana did not renew their contract with the company.

During the committee meeting today, Sen. Mark Stoops, D-Bloomington, asked Young if differences in technology at various school districts will pose potential problems during the administration of Pearson’s version of the ISTEP+.

Young says his company has administered online assessments all over the country for 15 years and have figured out how to accommodate every student taking an assessment.

“We have minimum technical requirements,” Young responded. “But again we really try to hit the broadest swath of what’s out there.”

Although the state did not renew its contract with CTB, the Department of Education will still work with the company through 2016 after CTB announced last month there will be a delay in releasing scores from the 2015 ISTEP+ test. As CTB finishes out its contract and Pearson begins its work with the state, the two companies are conducting weekly conference calls with each other and the Department of Education.

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