ISTEP delays set pass score after study

File Photo. (AP Photo/Joe Raymond)

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) The state board of education is concerned that the online format for ISTEP testing is more difficult than the paper-pencil version after a study comparing the two, came back with red flags. As a result, the board hasn’t set the pass/fail score for students.

The online test is new to Indiana and several other states across the country.

“We’re essentially hitting the reset button in education across the country and we’re looking for more rigor. We’re looking to push our students to the next level.”

With the next level, comes new questions. Most students took this year’s ISTEP test online, while others used pencil/paper.

“Now, the concern moving forward with online format is that obviously, there’s a difference in the types of questions that can be asked in each of the different formats,” said Sarah O’Brien, Vice-Chair for the Indiana State Board of Education.

For example, while the paper format had multiple-choice answers, the online version was open-ended, which is why the state board of education requested vendor CTB/McGraw-Hill to complete a report, comparing the two for fairness. The board received the study October 13, the night before its monthly meeting and months after members were hoping.

“There were a lot of red flags,” said O’Brien.

National experts were brought in and requested a variety of data reports from CTB/McGraw-Hill and the Department of Education to determine whether all the proper steps were taken to ensure fairness.

“As a parent and a teacher, I don’t feel that I can vote on anything without knowing 100 percent that that’s the case,” said O’Brien.

As a result, board members have delayed setting a cut score, meaning an appropriate passing score. They’ve even considered two, one for each test.

“If we give one score, we want to ensure that all students, regardless of the format that they took have the ability to reach that score.”

O’Brien said there’s no set timeline of when those pass/fail scores will be released.

“We’re very hopeful that we’ll be able to get this information out quickly and that students can count on it.”

ISTEP scores are set to be released in December. At this point, the delay isn’t pushing them back.


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