IDOE Working with Rochester School Corporation on Standardized Test Error

INDIANAPOLIS–Recently, the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) received communication from the Rochester School Corporation staff that approximately 700 students enrolled at the elementary, middle and high schools received a calculator on a non-calculator section of the ISTEP+ mathematics assessment. Some students used the calculator because the school received inaccurate guidance from the test vendor, while others were prohibited by their teachers as soon as the issue was identified. This problem occurred at numerous schools around Indiana.

Due to this error, students without an accommodation allowing the use of the calculator will have the results of their exams labeled as undetermined. The requirements from the US Department of Education that are supported by state policy mean that these test results must be invalidated. Impacted students will receive an “undetermined” on this portion of their assessment, noted as UND on result reports.

“We are in close communication with the school corporation, sharing information as we receive it,” said Molly Deuberry, communications director at the Indiana Department of Education. “We will continue to work with school administrators and the State Board of Education as we determine next steps.”

Sophomores who were specifically affected will need to retake this portion of the assessment. There will be two opportunities during the year as well as one each summer, before their normal graduation date.

This invalidation may have an impact on a school’s accountability grade. The Department continues to work with the school corporation to evaluate options for limiting this impact, providing information as it becomes available, and assisting in next steps.

The following are the components of accountability that utilize statewide assessment scores and provide an understanding of how the invalidated results may or may not affect accountability for the schools.

Rochester may have a high volume of undetermined Mathematics results due to the invalidation, which in turn leave proficiency rates and growth scores to be based on a small subset of the overall school population in 2016-17, and student test results from the 2015-16 school year.
It is important to note that it is not yet known what impact these invalidations will have on accountability scores for the schools. The Department will continue to communicate with the school corporation and provide preliminary information to the corporation as it becomes available, and assist schools in next steps.
The Department does not have any authority under current statutes to address or rectify this concern; however, the State Board of Education conducts an appeals process for schools that believe the final A-F letter grade does not accurately reflect the school’s performance, growth, or multiple measures, as applicable. Specifically, a school or school corporation may petition for review of its A-F grade based on “objective factors the school or school corporation considers relevant because the annual assessment data do not accurately reflect the school performance, growth, or multiple measures, as applicable”. Objective measures may include significant demographic changes in the student population, errors in data or other significant issues. The Department and State Board will collaborate to ensure that the State Board receives sufficient detail about this incident when reviewing the appeals.

Rochester School Corporation has been cooperative, and was one of the first schools to identify and work with the DOE to address this problem. Superintendent Jana Vance and the staff have devoted hours to helping the State hold Pearson, the testing company responsible for the role it played in causing these problems for thousands of Indiana students.

Parents can access their students’ scores beginning June 19. After reviewing those scores, parents with questions should contact the Indiana Department of Education’s Office of Assessment at (317) 232-9050 or toll-free (888) 544-7837, or via email.

SOURCE: News release from Indiana Department of Education