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More than 1,300 ISTEP test results to be tossed

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When ISTEP scores are released next week, parents and teachers will be able to easily identify whether a student’s exam was interrupted during last spring’s testing period and whether the results are valid.

In all, the scores for 1,388 tests will be invalidated, said Daniel Altman, a spokesman for the Department of Education.

Those students still will receive some results but their exam reports will make clear the results are tainted, state Superintendent Glenda Ritz said Wednesday.

Ritz said she wants parents and teachers to have as much information as possible so they can analyze the results of the ISTEP, which is used to measure student achievement and growth in elementary, middle and high schools. The results are also used to grade schools and adjust teacher pay.

The Department of Education has created three different types of ISTEP reports, Ritz said. Students will receive one of the three:

-       A report that provides ISTEP scores and indicates that the student did not suffer any interruptions in testing.

-       A report that provides the scores and indicates an interruption took place but says the scores were determined to be valid.

-       A report that provides scores or partial scores, indicates an interruption took place and says the problems led the results to be invalidated.

“I have insisted all score information be reported,” Ritz told the State Board of Education on Wednesday. “Normally, someone with an invalidated score gets nothing. I did not want that to happen. I thought quite a bit of the information” was important.

Last spring, server problems at CTB/McGraw-Hill – which administers the test – led to problems for the computer-based exam. Some students were kicked out of the test or had to pause in the middle of an exam. Some had to start their tests over and the state was forced to expand the testing window to ensure that all students had an opportunity to complete the exams.

In all, about 78,000 students suffered testing interruptions, although an independent analysis found the problems did not have a measurable negative impact on statewide scores. Still, Richard Hill, co-founder of the New Hampshire-based National Center for the Improvement of Education Assessment, said the problems could have affected individual students.

The Department of Education delayed releasing the ISTEP results as officials investigated the problem.

In July, officials said that scores for math increased in grades three, four, five, seven and eight from 2012 to 2013, with math scores decreasing over that same period only in sixth grade. Grades four, five and eight saw an increase in English scores, with scores for grade six remaining the same and scores in grades three and seven decreasing.

But the scores for individual students and school districts have not been released. Ritz said that will take place next week, with online data available Monday.

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