Indiana May Re-Score ISTEP Tests After Computer Glitch


Legislation has been filed in Indiana that would require the state to issue new scores for the 2015 ISTEP exam due to concerns over the possibility of scoring errors.

Governor Mike Pence has requested that a third party look into the issue at hand and determine new scores after an Indystar investigation found a computer glitch that could have mistakenly changed scores for particular questions on the previous exam.

Republicans in the state are arguing that the rescore is necessary in order to ensure that students receive correct results.

Scores from the 2015 exam are expected to be used as a baseline for the measurement of student academic achievement in future years since it was the first time students in the state were tested on the new rigorous standards.

“I met with four superintendents today,” State Rep. Bob Behning, an Indianapolis Republican, said Wednesday, “and all of them are like, ‘Yes, we need a rescore.’ So I think the field wants a rescore.”

Behning’s bill would require the Indiana Department of Education to find a third party to rescore the exams.  The new results would then be compared to the original results by the agency to “find any inconsistencies or other issues.”  The state may then decide to use the new scores as the baseline for future exams.

The State Board of Education would have oversight over the entire process, including approval of the third party chosen and determining what to do with the results of the rescore, writes Chelsea Schneider for Indystar.

However, a debate is currently ongoing concerning whether or not legislation is required to conduct a rescore.  According to House Speaker Brian Bosma, the state could conduct the rescore through a contractual obligation, thereby making the legislation unnecessary.

While the Department of Education has given their approval of the ISTEP rescore because it ensures all students in the state receive the credit they deserve, they are unsure how loyal lawmakers are to the proposal, which could cost the state $8 – $10 million for a rescore of the entire test.

Behning believes the rescore should focus on open-ended questions which may be susceptible to a glitch in the computer program.  These questions, which require students to complete a writing prompt or write out an answer to a math question, are given two scores.  If those scores are entered too quickly, the glitch could have caused the second score to replace the first one.

The original investigation carried out in December by Indystar discovered a glitch that could have resulted in an unknown number of students being given incorrect scores.  According to seven scoring supervisors who worked for CTB/McGraw Hill, the error was large enough to investigate the situation further, but management decided not to proceed.

A review of the scores was performed by CTB that found there was no “discernible impact” on the scores as a result of the computer glitch, but that errors to individual tests could not be ruled out.

CTB continues to say that the issue is “very rare” and “did not affect student scores.”