2nd round of ISTEP testing begins

Some schools in Jackson County started the second round of ISTEP+ testing Thursday with success and reported few to no problems or glitches with the online test.

But at least two local school districts decided to wait to give the Indiana Department of Education time to work out any bugs, should they arise.

Seymour and Crothersville schools began testing Thursday, while Medora Community School Corp. started Friday, and Brownstown Central Community School Corp. was expected to begin testing Monday, school officials said.

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Elsewhere in the state, Bartholomew County and other school districts delayed testing, and some have asked permission for students to take the test using pencil and paper after experiencing continuing problems with an online server.

Medora Principal Chrystal Street said she didn’t anticipate having any issues because the school doesn’t have a high number of students who would be logging online to take the test at the same time.

That is what caused major issues in 2013, when an estimated 70,000 students statewide experienced disruptions, including screens freezing and being kicked out of the test.

Although Seymour reported having no major issues Thursday, Cortland Elementary School Principal Diane Altemeyer said she won’t relax until testing is complete.

“With the past issues we’ve had with testing, I’m not ready to cry victory just yet,” she said.

Altemeyer serves as the district’s testing coordinator and is responsible for making sure the schools follow the proper procedures for taking standardized tests, including ISTEP+.

Indiana Department of Education spokesman Daniel Altman told The Associated Press on Thursday the first day of testing was “going smoothly” and the rate of interruptions was low.

Crothersville Elementary School Principal Chris Marshall said he was pleased with how the online test was going at his school Thursday.

“Things have gone very good,” he said. “Only a couple students were kicked off, but they were able to log back in immediately and finish.”

David Schill, principal of Crothersville Junior-Senior High School, also reported no issues.

“We had no problems whatsoever this morning,” he said Thursday. “We have no plans to do other than electronic testing unless some major malfunction occurs with the state’s or CTB/McGraw-Hill’s system.”

CTB/McGraw-Hill is the company contracted by the state to conduct online ISTEP+ testing.

Brownstown Central Superintendent Greg Walker said school officials made the decision two years ago to start ISTEP+ testing later than other schools.

“Two years ago, when we had all the glitches, we said, ‘Let’s let things get started for a couple of days so they can work things out before we start,’” he said.

Some of the problems he had heard other schools experiencing Thursday included students not being able to select answers in multiple choice questions or trying to choose one answer and the computer registering a different answer.

“Hopefully, they will get those fixed by Monday,” Walker said.

With the ongoing issues being experienced, he said it was the right decision.

Brownstown students in Grades 3 through 8 will begin testing Monday. Testing should last about a week, he added.

“There’s usually a 10-day window to take the test, but I think it’s been extended to 12 this year because of different issues, so we should be fine,” he said.