FWCS students to take paper ISTEP

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News release from the Fort Wayne Community Schools:

FWCS Students to Take Paper ISTEP, Forgo Online Exams

(April 28, 2014) – Fort Wayne Community Schools officials announced today that students will not be taking the second round of ISTEP+ or IMAST exams online this week. Instead, FWCS will wait for paper exams to be delivered in May to allow students to take a version of the state standardized test in a more reliable format.

“After several days of computer network issues related to CTB-McGraw Hill’s servers, we lost confidence that testing could take place without the extensive interruptions students experienced last year,” Superintendent Dr. Wendy Robinson said. “We refuse to subject students and staff to the probability of the same thing happening this year. Our students deserve the opportunity to be tested in an environment that is conducive to their success.”

The Indiana Department of Education worked cooperatively with FWCS to provide a solution to the online testing issues. Instead of online testing, FWCS students in third through eighth grades taking ISTEP+ or IMAST will be tested using paper exams. Because it will take some time for the test booklets and identification labels to be printed, tests are not expected to arrive until late May.

The adjustment of the ISTEP+ testing schedule means schools will also have to adjust other tests to be taken in May and June as well as end-of-the-year activities.

“We appreciate the cooperation the state has shown in working through these issues,” Dr. Robinson said. “We also appreciate the flexibility of our staff, students and parents as we make adjustments through the end of the year.”

FWCS was fully prepared to begin ISTEP+ testing online. Over the past year, FWCS increased the capacity to test online in infrastructure and hardware as well as diligently testing the systems to ensure they could handle the testing. The results of the standardized tests are used as the measure of the success for students, teachers, schools and school districts, making it critical that the systems work properly.

“We have met our obligation in preparing our students and our network for these exams,” Board of School Trustees President Mark GiaQuinta said. “It is disappointing that once again we find ourselves in a situation where the testing company’s system cannot handle the testing. This reinforces the error in using one exam as the sole data point for all accountability measures. Relying on one test just doesn’t work.”

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