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Last updated: Tue. Apr. 30, 2013 - 01:06 pm EDT

Schools face online ISTEP+ glitches

Some suspended testing, expect to resume today

Online standardized testing across the state is expected to resume today after schools experienced glitches Monday that forced some districts to suspend testing.

Indiana Department of Education spokesman Daniel Altman said the department worked with online testing vendor CTB/McGraw-Hill throughout the day Monday, and CTB/McGraw-Hill is confident testing will be back on schedule today.

Districts across the state experienced problems accessing the state’s ISTEP+ standardized test, and students taking the tests were interrupted, although no data was lost, Altman said. An issue with the vendor’s server is believed to be the cause of the problems, he said.

“(CTB/McGraw-Hill) engineers are working to resolve this issue and they expect it to be fixed in time for schools to give the test (Tuesday) morning,” Altman said.

Northwest, Southwest and East Allen County Schools suspended testing Monday until the problems can be fixed.

Fort Wayne Community Schools spokeswoman Krista Stockman said just some schools in the district experienced difficulty.

The problems appeared similar to those the state experienced in its inaugural year of online testing two years ago, said NACS Superintendent Chris Himsel.

In spring of 2011, a system failure caused as many as 9,000 students to be logged off their computers over a series of days. After the problem, the Indiana Department of Education apologized to districts and worked with CTB/McGraw-Hill to fix the problem.

Last year, the more than 320,000 testers experienced fewer problems with online testing, but that doesn’t appear to be the case this year. The online, multiple-choice portion of the ISTEP+ standardized test began Monday.

“Instead of wasting the time of students, we did end the testing sessions and returned to providing meaningful instructional activities when it became apparent that student frustration was building and the testing vendor was not going to have the issue resolved in a timely manner,” Himsel said in a statement Monday.

Since 2011, the state has required more students each year take ISTEP+ tests online. Altman didn’t know Monday how many students of the 500,000 taking the test will take it online this year. Monday evening, reports were still coming in as to the number of students affected by Monday’s glitches, but Altman said “a lot (of students) were able to take the test without any problems.”

Stockman said as long as the problems are fixed in the coming days, the district should be able to complete all the testing by the May 10 deadline.

Testing days lost hit the district hard, because it’s struggling to get all the required students to take the test online with too few computing devices, Stockman said.

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