The State Board of Education convenes Wednesday for a special meeting to set ISTEP+ cut scores and discuss new high school diplomas proposed for the state.
The board postponed the cut score decision at its Oct. 14 meeting because members expressed concerns about the difference in difficulty between the paper/pencil and online versions of the ISTEP+ test. This comes from an annual study conducted by testing company CTB that look at the validity and comparability of the two types of testing methods.
The board decided to let CTB finish the study before approving ISTEP+ cut scores, the point that determines passing versus failing.
State Board of Education spokesperson Marc Lotter says the results of that study are complete, and the experts who reviewed the test found the online version of the test was more challenging than the paper/pencil version.
To understand the difference he gave this example: a math story problem on the paper/pencil version asked students to come up with the mathematical statement that best illustrated the story problem pictured above. There were multiple choices the students could choose from, meaning they could guess and have a chance of getting the right answer or use the choices to check their math work.
Alternatively, on the online version, there was just a blank space where the student had to write in the correct mathematical statement.
The use of online versus paper/pencil versions of the test is up to school districts, so not all students faced the same difficulties.
Lotter says to compensate for these differences, CTB will consider adding bonus points to a student’s end score, ranging from a quarter of a point up to 7.5 points, and this slightly inflated score will then be applied to the single cut score the SBOE will vote on Wednesday.
ISTEP+ scores were initially delayed when CTB told the SBOE in August they wouldn’t have them graded in time because of new, technology-enhanced questions.
The board will also discuss new diploma options at Wednesday’s special meeting, on which they need to take action by Dec. 1. If approved, the diplomas will be implemented for the 2018-19 school year.
The meeting begins at 9 a.m. in room 233 of the statehouse.