08/29/13 Indiana schools will be under some pressure to explain ISTEP+ scores in depth when the IDOE (Indiana Department of Education) releases scores to both schools and parents on the same day. School administrators were notified this week that the scores will be released on September 9. In past years, the scores were released to schools at the end of the school year so administrators were able to spend the summer months analyzing areas corporation wide and those for individual students that might need improvement and those where they did well.

The report provided to parents not only contains a pass or fail score, but breaks down individual scores from different sub-tests or parts of the test. In essence, parents, teachers, and administrators are able to pinpoint the exact parts of the test that show mastery of language arts or math topics and those that indicate more instruction may be needed.

Administrators will have to spend considerable time analyzing the raw data at the corporation level from the IDOE. They will have to do manual calculations of overall passing rates and disaggregation of data to determine comparisons in several areas, such as students who are fluent in English and those who have not yet mastered the second language.

Parents will only be able to access the ISTEP findings on the internet if they have a log-in pass code. According to Michelle Riise, director of quality programs for the Plymouth Schools, they have not yet received the codes that they will pass along to parents. Paper copies will also be sent home with students as soon as they can be copied.

The delay in getting results to schools can, in part, be traced back to computer interruptions as students were testing this spring. CTB McGraw-Hill, the company that administered the test, experienced an overload on their servers that caused some 70,000 tests to be affected with problems. Testing dates were extended for students to complete the entire test.

School corporations must provide the state with school improvement plans based on the ISTEP scores. That deadline for finalizing the state report has been pushed back to November 1. The annual report must also contain compensation models for staff performance evaluations. By state statute, the IDOE must report to the State Board of Education regarding local teacher models.

Carol Anders Correspondent