ISTEP exam hits another road block; scoring glitch leads to delays in results

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (August 5, 2015) - The ISTEP exam is facing yet another issue. Test scores will be delayed likely months due to a scoring flaw. This is just the latest in what has been a year filled with problems for the state test.

Students and teachers won’t know how they performed on the spring exams until likely January or February of 2016-- almost a year after the tests were taken.

A scoring glitch, according to McGraw Hill, the company that creates the exam, is responsible for delaying accurate results five to six months.

“Well, I would think after years of experience and millions of tests, we would understand how a fifth grader may describe and come up with the correct answer for the perimeter of a rectangle,” said Dr. Vince Bertram, an Indiana State School Board Member.

Board members at a monthly meeting held in Bloomington Wednesday were not at all happy with this latest hiccup.

“It’s not that helpful if I’m a teacher or a school, getting my letter grade almost a full year after testing. I mean, so much has changed, it makes it much harder to be responsive to a letter grade that for instance has gone down, it almost sets you back two years,” said board member Gordon Hendry.

“Could you again tell us the amount of time it will take to make this correction?” asked Bertram of McGraw Hill’s President, Ellen Haley.

“Yes, um, and it’s not really, I guess you could call it a correction, yeah…” she replied.

The President of McGraw Hill faced tough questions from board members. She explained the test's new, online format provided for answers that test creators never even considered.  Scorers have to go back now and give credit to answers that were initially considered wrong.

“I don’t think it’s a failing on our part, I think it’s just the reality of our students now on computers for the first time doing things in different ways and it’s a study of students online,” she said.

“I think we certainly understand that we need to make sure that we’re giving students credit for their work. That’s the utmost to me because this is a very high stakes test in Indiana,” said Indiana State Superintendent Glenda Ritz.

Once the new answers will be added, all tests will have to be re-scored. Then the pass-cut is determined to figure out passing and failing grades. Students and teachers will likely receive their grades by January 2016 at the earliest.

Indiana had a four-year, $95 million contract with McGraw Hill that expires this year.

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