Kyle Stokes came to StateImpact Indiana in 2011 from from Columbia, Mo., where he was a producer and reporter for NPR member station KBIA-FM and NBC affiliate KOMU-TV. Based out of the WFIU/WTIU Newsroom in Bloomington, his work has appeared on the statewide network of Indiana Public Broadcasting Stations, and on NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Tell Me More. Originally from Minneapolis, Minn., Stokes is a proud graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism and an even prouder Minnesota Twins fan.
In response to a question from StateImpact during a speech to the Education Writers Association, Duncan suggested this week’s glitches in Indiana, Oklahoma and Minnesota represent a learning opportunity. Here’s what he said:
We should have competition. We should be transparent — I don’t know who that company is, I don’t want to pre-judge — but if that company can’t deliver, there’s an opportuntiy for someone else to come in and do something very, very different… We should not have one problem and then say we should go all the way back to pencil and paper, that doesn’t make sense to me. Continue Reading →
After technicians solved Monday’s problem — a lack of memory on the servers — Ritz says another problem arose Tuesday. She added she will review testing company CTB/McGraw Hill’s contractual obligations and address the “high stakes issue” of whether to consider the results of the exam as valid ”at some point.”
“Our first goal is to just get through the actual testing window and make sure all the students will be taking the test,” Ritz said.
CTB’s online status monitor showed a “green flag” through the school day, although Ritz had asked schools to cut their testing loads by half. State officials announced students had completed more than 300,000 testing sessions as of Wednesday afternoon. Continue Reading →
State superintendent Glenda Ritz kicked off the State Board of Education’s study session Wednesday with discussion of the issues as schools statewide were resuming testing, although on a limited schedule. Here are a few of the comments on the problems with ISTEP+ testing board members made during Wednesday morning’s study session:
Dan Elsener: “Because of the impact to so many people, and leadership’s responsibility when we do evaluated. I want to know what the department can do, what the schools are going to have to have in terms of training. Our vendor, we want to evaluate that too, but we have to look at all parties — not for blame, but this is disastrous. Our educators need better leadership on this thing.” Continue Reading →
“Suddenly there was an image on everyone’s screen of a computer with a line connecting it to the globe,” Sink wrote on our Facebook page, “which I assume means connection to server/internet lost… They had to restart all the computers, but after several tries the principal told them they’d have to stop and do the test another time.”
As Indiana schools enter their third day of testing, state education officials hope they’ve seen the last of the ‘Please Wait’ screens. They’ve given the go-ahead for testing to resume Wednesday, but are asking schools to cut their testing loads in half, a request that could extend ISTEP+ testing through the month of May.
But the directive also deepens the logistical challenge for local educators in setting up online exams — we reported on that on Monday — with many districts’ school years coming to a close and other students needing to take exams other than ISTEP+. Continue Reading →
Let’s compare this to paper-and-pencil testing for a moment. Students were booted out of the test, at times in the middle of reading a passage, and not allowed to log back in. Officials are saying testing will resume as normal on Tuesday and Wednesday. How do you expect a child, who is already feeling immense anxiety over the test, to have valid results?
In essence, this would be like a teacher taking a testing booklet from students at random during testing, and then having them continue the next day. With no warning, with no explanation. Continue Reading →
Laptops set up with pencils and scratch paper at the ready in a temporary testing lab at Tecumseh Junior High in Lafayette.
UPDATED, 7:35 p.m. — Server errors at the company charged with administering Indiana’s online ISTEP+ exams ground testing to a halt for a second straight day, prompting state superintendent Glenda Ritz to ask districts Tuesday to stop administering the exams.
By late Tuesday, officials had given the go-ahead for schools to resume testing on Wednesday. But they asked schools to cut their testing load in half, promising in a statement to “work with local schools to ensure that they have the time they need to fairly administer the test.”
“I am greatly disappointed to learn that Indiana schools had their ISTEP+ testing interrupted,” state superintendent Glenda Ritz said in an earlier statement. “Like all Hoosier parents, students and teachers, I find these interruptions frustrating and unacceptable.”
As of this update, the online ISTEP+ status page from testing company CTB/McGraw Hill shows a similar “red flag” message to the one that stopped assessments on Monday.
“School testing came to a halt statewide early Monday because the CTB/McGraw-Hill testing company servers in New Jersey crashed around 9 a.m., state education officials said,” a newspaper wrote Monday morning.
A login screen on a computer in an area set up for online ISTEP+ testing at Tecumseh Junior High School in Lafayette. The team charged with setting up online testing worries Monday's glitches could slow down students taking exams on Tuesday.
UPDATED, May 8 —We’ve attached to this post an audio story we sent to Indiana public radio stations on May 7. For our most recent posts about the ISTEP+ disruptions, click here.
During the ramp-up to the administration of ISTEP+ exams to the 1,000 students at Tecumseh Junior High over the next week or so, school media specialist Dave Hobbs takes on another job title: logistics officer.
Hobbs and a team of several other staff members spent the better part of Monday preparing the 250 computers students will use to take the exam.
To ensure test administration runs smoothly starting Tuesday, Hobbs has to plan down to the minute, taking “hours upon hours upon hours” to open computers to the login screen where students launch their tests.
But “the big worry right now — the tech people have already warned me — is that CTB had so many problems today, they’re more than likely going to be rebooting their servers tonight, which means all this work that I’ve done for the last several hours will be for nothing,” Hobbs says Monday afternoon. “All these machines will have to be logged in tomorrow morning,” a process that takes three to four minutes per computer.
StateImpact confirmed with representatives at MSD Wayne Township, Brownsburg Community Schools and Culver Community Schools that students there won’t continue testing today. A representative of Fort Wayne Community Schools confirmed the district’s schools are “having issues” with testing.
The problem is likely more widespread, though. Messages on an email listserv of school technology directors suggests the problem spans the state, and reports from Twitter suggest other schools are halting administration of the test too.
“Kids are getting kicked out of their testing procedure, then when we try to get them back in, there are long waits,” says Brad Schuldt, superintendent of Culver Community Schools. He says two grades in his district were able to complete testing, but students who were scheduled to test in the afternoon will not take the test today. Continue Reading →
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