Elementary school claims missing ISTEP scores lowered A to F school grade

CARROLL CO., Ind. (WLFI) – When Carroll Elementary Principal Amanda Skinner received the results for the 2012 through 2013 school year, she was shocked to see that evaluation showed an entire class hadn’t taken a portion of the test.

“I knew it was an error right away,” said Skinner.

Skinner said the results showed a sixth-grade class of 22 students had not taken an online multiple choice portion of the test, but the principal said she knew differently.

“We knew that the students had taken the tests. The students were there, the students said they took the test and the teachers said they submitted the test,” said Skinner.

Skinner said students experienced multiple issues trying to submit the online portion of the test, but said thanks to staff documenting every issue, they were able to file an appeal with the Indiana Department of Education.

“The Department of Education said they would not count the scores against us because typically an undetermined test will be counted as a did not pass,” said Skinner.

The problem was just beginning. Skinner said data shows the students who weren’t counted had a past history of success with ISTEP, and their lack of scores took their school from an A to a C grade.

“If we were able to count those pass and pass plus’s for us, our school letter grade would have been higher than what it became,” said Skinner.

Carroll Consolidated School Corporation Superintendent Christopher Lagoni said the school received the scores last fall. It was too late for any attempts for a re-take of the test, but Lagoni said another problem was using the same A to F grading scale from year’s past.

“The A to F matrix that was formed under Dr. Bennett was used again for this year, and we used it in a year when there were thousands and thousands of server issues across the state. So, if you only focus on the ISTEP scores for the elementary and middle schools and then you have issues, then that’s going to be even more of an effect,” said Lagoni.

Skinner said there are no current issues between the school corporation and the Department of Education, and the school has taken steps to upgrade technology. However, the thought of last year’s glitch still lingers in the mind of some students and staff.

“There’s just a lot of extra stress and pressure, but we’re also at the same time just trying to keep calm and do the best that we can, because that’s all that we can do,” said Skinner.

Skinner said the students will still take all the online tests required for the ISTEP exam.

A spokesman for the Department of Education said they handle the same appeal process for each school, and would need to investigate the matter in more detail before making any comment.

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