Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

December 21, 2013

Disruptions invalidate charter school's tests

Greensburg Daily News

---- — INDIANAPOLIS – The award-winning* Christel House Academy charter school in Indianapolis suffered significant disruptions in its ISTEP+ testing process in 2013, preventing 270 of the 294 Christel House Academy students from successfully completing the online exam.

The resulting precipitous drop from an “A”, to an “F” on the Department of Education (DOE) grading scale is not reflective of the school’s accomplishments or its students’ academic progress.

“We appealed our grade based on the tremendously disruptive ISTEP+ testing problems that occurred with the online test. We believe these disruptions fatally flawed the results,” said Christel House Academy principal Carey Dahncke. “We believe this inaccurately represents the performance of our students and teachers.”

Dahncke cited examples of the technical failures his students experienced as they tried to complete the test:

Test shutting down and recording students’ exams as “complete,” before they finished.

Tests refusing to allow students to select certain answers.

Test questions referring to charts or graphs which would not appear on the students’ screens.

Very slow progression from one question to the next, making it difficult for students to stay focused.

Students being “kicked off” the system and required to log back on, often several times.

The disastrous impact of the ISTEP+ test interruptions has been documented and carefully analyzed. Students who experienced test interruptions consistently performed poorly compared to last year’s results. In fact, nearly every student who moved from “passing” last year, to “not passing” this year, experienced disruption in the test-taking.

“We believe that the scores of the 270 Christel House Academy students who experienced ISTEP+ interruptions are invalid, and the accountability grade is unjustly based on this flawed data,” said Dahncke. “For DOE to ignore the facts for Christel House Academy, and the other 151 schools that filed appeals, is perplexing.”

Dahncke said that he is consulting with his Board of Directors on options, following today’s State Board of Education meeting. These options include exploring further administrative appeals, and legal action.

*Awards include:

Consistent “exemplary” and “A” ratings from DOE

Indiana Title 1 Distinguished School Award

Healthy Hoosier School Award

USDA Healthier US School Award

National Forum’s Schools to Watch Award

NASSP MetLife Breakthrough Schools Award

– Daily News