Schools skeptical of ISTEP results

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The fallout of the ISTEP test delay is getting worse. Some Indiana school officials are calling the anticipated results worthless. The Indiana Department of Education is going to great lengths to get the results validated.

The desks of school administrators are covered with spreadsheets, memos, lists, and student records in the mess created by this year's ISTEP testing. Some say it's worse than they thought.

Will the test results be worth anything?

"I don't believe they are," answered Jan Combs, associate school superintendent of Lawrence Township Schools.

Lawrence Township and other schools are now identifying all the students whose scores are likely to be lower because computers locked up, kicked them off, lost their answers, or forced them to start over.

Testing company McGraw-Hill estimates more than half of the 6,500 Lawrence students who took the exams are affected. School administrators say the number is closer to eight out of ten. Other schools see similar high numbers.

"I think the universal opinion is these are invalid test results and they should be used for high stakes measures," Combs said.

Measures such as holding students back, grading the quality of schools, or determining teacher's salaries.

Fort Wayne schools aren't accepting ISTEP results until they are checked by an independent organization. In a prepared statement, Superintendent Wendy Robinson said, "We will not stand by and be victims of this broken system."

Indiana's Department of Education is hiring an outside firm to validate the test results. It doesn't know who yet that will be, when the work will be done or how much it will cost.

"I'm very concerned," said State Representative Robert Behning.

But the chairman of the House Education Committee isn't rushing to judgement.

"It's too early to tell at this point. Obviously, people are starting to make judgements before all the data's been released," he explained.

The testing company says computer problems will delay results by at least a month. That gives schools less time to access scores and determine whether they can be used to help struggling students succeed.

In the meantime, testing company McGraw-Hill Education just appointed former Indiana Governor and U.S. Senator Evan Bayh to its board of directors. The Indiana legislature has a one-day special session on June 12.

Eyewitness News is told the ISTEP problems may come up for discussion.