State to resume ISTEP testing Wednesday
For the second straight day, students throughout Indiana woke up wondering whether they'll be able to take their ISTEP tests. Problems logging in, or getting forced off the computer system hosting the online test, has forced the state to suspend the test.
Indiana students will resume their ISTEP tests Wednesday, the state announced Tuesday evening.
"Based upon assurances made by CTB McGraw Hill, the Indiana Department of Education is opening ISTEP+ testing tomorrow morning, Wednesday, May 1," the state wrote in a release.
The department is asking schools to only allow half the students to log in to take the test at one time. They believe an overload of students signing on may have been behind the problems on Monday and Tuesday.
The department says they will work with school districts to make sure there is enough time to fairly administer the tests.
The standardized testing has been interrupted the past two days due to computer glitches.
At New Castle's Westwood Elementary School, even a newly-installed computer lab designed to ease state online test taking couldn't ward off statewide ISTEP computer problems Tuesday.
For the second day in a row schools suspended testing because servers operated by testing service CTB/McGraw-Hill could not handle the load of so many schools logging on at the same time in multiple states including Indiana and Oklahoma.
"Our fourth graders were able to log in," said Principal James Carson IV. "They took the first wave of testing, no problem."
But when New Castle Elementary fifth and sixth graders tried to log in, they couldn't.
By lunchtime, State School Superintendent Glenda RItz sent out an email suspending test taking statewide. Principal Carson read the email to Eyewitness News, including the line, "I find these interruptions frustrating and unacceptable."
We found some New Castle children shaking off the frustration with a game of front yard kickball Tuesday evening.
But hours before, one student says she had trouble with "glitching." Another third grader said "When I tried to log on, it wouldn't let me. I finally got it."
"It took us twenty minutes to log in. We had to read," said another student.
Mona Gabbard, one of the moms watching the game, said "the night before ISTEP,
we make sure they go to bed early that they get a good breakfast."
Some parents worry though all that special prep is wiped out by the frustration of those log on delays.
"Kids having trouble, struggling, I would think that the delays and uncertainty would be a big concern," said a parent.
The stakes are high. Bad test performance could affect teacher pay, school ratings, even cost schools state funding. That's a big issue, especially at a time schools are competing for students and dollars.
"Making sure we stay an "A" School, something we want to hold on to," Carson said. "I hate to think we could lose that because of a glitch that was just not providing the proper environment our students needed."
There are some teachers calling for the Department of Education to invalidate these test results, or have the students retake the tests altogether.
"It's a very high-stakes test for students, teachers, schools," said Lawrence Township Associate Superintendent Jan Combs. "Teacher compensation will be based on these results."
Indiana isn't the only state affected by computer trouble. Server crashes at CTB/McGraw-Hill also forced school districts in Oklahoma to postpone the standardized test.
They'll try again later this morning.