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Outside review sought for Indiana exam results

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Indiana's Department of Education is seeking an outside review of the ISTEP test results following a series of computer glitches that will likely delay test results until July.

DOE spokesman Daniel Altman said Wednesday it had begun the process of selecting an independent evaluator to assess the test's validity.

The announcement comes shortly after test contractor CTB/McGraw-Hill said that problems with the online exam would likely delay results until July.

At this point, we've just given the IDOE a list of students who experienced interruptions during the assessment administration. No determinations have been made yet about validity, but the reporting delay is tied to that review process," said Brian Belardi, spokesman for McGraw-Hill Education.

Limits on the amount McGraw-Hill's online servers could handle caused students taking the ISTEP across the state earlier this month to be frozen out of tests in some cases and, in others, experience lengthy delays.

Problems with the online format affected roughly 70,000 tests and have led some school administrators to say the results should be ruled invalid.

Leaders of the Fort Wayne Community School Corp. have been the most vocal critics of the testing troubles, flatly calling for the results to be deemed invalid and thrown out.

"We're happy to see those next steps are happening, we will still wait and see how things will go," school spokeswoman Krista Stockman said. "It's difficult for us to see how these tests could possibly be valid, given the extent of the disruption."

ISTEP results have become intensely important in the last few years, as new laws tie them to teacher pay and how much money school districts receive. Republican lawmakers who pushed through a sweeping series of education changes in 2011, including basing teacher pay on test scores, have supported new budgeting rules that would send money to schools that score well on the state's A-F grading system.

A state legislative committee plans to review troubles with the online test, and call in leaders from the DOE and McGraw-Hill to answer questions in the coming months.

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