Some schools switch from online to paper tests

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Some school corporations in Indiana are opting to use pencils and paper for the state's standardized tests instead of risking another round of technology problems like those that dogged last year's tests.

Indiana Department of Education spokesman Daniel Altman said Monday that the first day of Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress, or ISTEP, tests went smoothly, with about 172,000 sessions completed as anticipated.

But Fort Wayne Community Schools announced it has dropped the online version of the standardized test following issues with a practice run last week, and Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz said Wayne Township schools in Indianapolis is also trading computer testing for traditional paper tests.

"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," Fort Wayne Superintendent Wendy Robinson said in a news release. "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."

About 80,000 Indiana students in third through eighth grade were kicked off the online test last spring when CTB/McGraw-Hill's computer servers crashed, a report found.

And last week, CTB/McGraw-Hill blamed a hardware failure at a data center for the glitch that stalled Oklahoma school's standardized testing. Oklahoma State Superintendent Janet Barresi has recommended her state not renew its contract with CTB/McGraw-Hill for 2014-2015.

A spokesman for the company declined comment Monday evening.

"The Department of Education is in continuous communication with CTB, and we were even before we heard about the Oklahoma issue," Ritz said Monday. "We will continue to monitor every single day."

In Fort Wayne last week, connectivity issues caused problems that were not flaws on the part of the school, spokeswoman Krista Stockman said. She said schools have expanded bandwidth to five times the speed from last year in part to help prepare for this year's ISTEP tests.

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