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Online-Test Glitches Didn't Hurt Indiana Scores, Review Finds

One in three Indiana students experienced interruptions while taking the state's online standardized tests this spring, but the widespread glitches had no discernible effect on statewide student scores, according to a review commissioned by the Indiana Department of Education.

"While it certainly took significantly more effort to complete the testing this year because of the interruptions, that effort was apparently successful at negating the impact of the interruptions for the vast majority of students," wrote the report's author, Richard Hill of the National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment. "Given the volume and the nature of the interruptions, this finding will certainly come as a surprise to many."

The testing problems occurred in late April and early May, as nearly half a million Indiana 3rd-8th graders took the Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress-Plus, or ISTEP+, exams. The interruptions were the result of faulty memory on the servers of the state's testing vendor, CTB/McGraw-Hill.

In a statement from the department, Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz said there is "no doubt" that the problems adversely affected students and schools and acknowledged that there is no way to definitively know how children would have performed had the interruptions not occurred.

The statement attributed the lack of a measurable impact on student scores to "the efforts of teachers, administrators, students, and parents, as well as the swift and decisive actions taken by Superintendent Ritz."

Statewide, Indiana's scores in both mathematics and English/language arts rose slightly in 2013.

The state department of education is still negotiating a financial settlement with CTB/McGraw-Hill, according to the statement. Schools have also been given flexibility "to minimize the effect these tests have on various matters, such as teacher evaluation and compensation."

Ninety-five percent of Indiana students took the ISTEP+ online in 2013, up from 71 percent the previous year.

Check out the full report, as well as the Indiana Department of Education's cool interactive map above, for all the gory details.

Follow @BenjaminBHerold and @EdWeekEdTech for the latest news on ed tech policies, practices, and trends.

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