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Rochester Schools identify ISTEP problem, some students must retake exam

WSBT 22

A problem with this year's ISTEP test could have a major impact on students and schools around the state.

We're learning that some students used a calculator on a non-calculator portion of the math section. So far one school district has identified the issue.

The Rochester School Corporation is one of the first to come forward and tell the Indiana Department of Education about the mix-up. Now, because of the mistake that was made, some students will have to re-take that portion of the test.

In a statement, the Rochester School Corporation claims some students used the calculator because they received inaccurate guidance from the test vendor. While some teachers caught the error in time, others didn't. Now hundreds of students, like former sophomore Ally Calvert, will pay the price.

"They didn't give us details, but they told us they did mess up on the ISTEP, and we would have to retake it,” Calvert said. “And a lot of people were upset about it because they spent time studying for the whole year."

A spokesperson with the Indiana Department of Education said in a statement: "We are in close communication with the school corporation sharing information as we receive it. We will continue to work with school administrators and the State Board of Education as we determine next steps."

Incoming freshman Gabriella Meagher will be spared from retaking the test. She remembers the confusion on test day.

"All the students were getting together in groups out in the hallways and classrooms talking about what's wrong with the ISTEP, and some of the teachers were saying we weren't supposed to have calculators on our ISTEP test," Meagher said.

For those student who don't have an exemption to use a calculator, the results of that math section of the exams will be labeled undetermined. This also means it could have an impact on overall scores for schools.

Calvert’s mother Laura Calvert says she blames the state for the mistake. She thinks kids should be allowed to use calculators and the ISTEP puts too much pressure on kids to pass.

"I think they should just take off the ISTEP altogether. They already have the IREAD, they have the ACTs, PSATs. I think that's enough for all the kids,” Laura Calvert said.

Because a passing ISTEP score is a qualification for graduation, students who were sophomores last year and who were impacted will have to take that math section again. Other grade levels will not.

Rochester Schools were the first to identify the issue, but other schools around the state could be facing the same problem, impacting many more students.

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