ISTEP rescore requires action

HANCOCK COUNTY — Parents whose children are on the pass-fail bubble for last spring’s ISTEP exam could boost their students’ scores, but they have to act fast.

Parents of students in Grades 4 to 9 who took the test while in Grades 3 to 8 last spring have until midnight Friday to request a rescore for their child’s test, which could bump them past the threshold for passing the high-stakes exam.

Parents on Monday should have received an email or letter from their child’s school district about how to access ISTEP scores online. The website, indiana.ctb.com, requires parents to make a username and password to log on. Once logged on, parents should check results for the written portion of the exam, which featured open-ended responses that could receive different scores depending on which grader evaluated the questions.

Rhonda Peterson, curriculum director for Southern Hancock School Corp., said students who failed by only a few points in the writing portion of the exam could be bumped up into passing range with a rescore. The passing score for ISTEP was altered this year, so many students who passed the exam in previous years might have fallen short this year, Peterson said.

Parents will see an option to request a rescore on the web page, Peterson said.

The window for parents to request a rescore closes Friday night. The limited amount of time — Monday through Friday — has left many educators uncertain all tests that need to be rescored will be, Peterson said.

In previous years, the state allowed administrators to request rescores, but that’s no longer an option, Peterson said. While she has encouraged many parents of students who scored significantly lower than in previous years to request a rescore, the final decision is out of administrators’ hands, she said.

“It’s all on the parents’ shoulders,” Peterson said. “It’s disappointing that we don’t have an opportunity to play more of a role in this.”

Peterson said she has received responses from many parents who don’t understand how to navigate the online forms required to request a rescore. She’s offered parents who don’t understand the process, as well as those who do not have computer access, to contact administrators to arrange to stop by a school facility to receive assistance, she said.

Preliminary figures from the Department of Education project statewide scores to drop by 16 percent in the English/language arts portion of the exam and 24 percent in mathematics. The drop is attributed to a shift in scoring criteria.

School corporations’ accountability grades are also contingent on ISTEP scores. Low scores could result in failing marks for school corporations that have traditionally performed well, which could damage a district’s public perception, said Shane Robbins, superintendent of Mt. Vernon School Corp.

“Those grades are how we attract people to the district. It’s how we celebrate our teachers, students and all their hard work,” Robbins said. “When you pour a lot of effort into something like that and map out a game plan, it’s frustrating that you might not get to see the fruits of your labor.”

School corporations are expected to receive final scores for the 2015 ISTEP assessment Dec. 8. Parents will be able to access those scores via the same website as the one used to request a rescore, officials said.

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Daniel Morgan is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. He can be reached at (317) 477-3228 or dmorgan@greenfieldreporter.com.