This story has been updated to reflect the most recent information available.
The Indiana Department of Education is seeking $4 million in damages from the company that created last year’s problem-plagued ISTEP test.
The state blames the California-based CTB company for the scoring problems and technical glitches that led to delays in releasing last year’s test results.
State Superintendent Glenda Ritz today told the Indiana State Board of Education that the state had sent a letter to CTB making the request for damages but has not yet received a response. Spokesman Daniel Altman said the state is working with the attorney general’s office, but a lawsuit has not yet been filed.
The letter, written by state lawyer Bernice Corley, notes that the state’s contract with CTB included penalties for each day the scores were delayed that would have added up to $11.5 million were it not for language in the contract that limited damages to about $2.3 million.
Corley argued that the state’s significant expenses warranted a $4 million payment.
“The $4 million number was arrived at with an understanding of what the cap of the contract is but also with an understanding of the amount of damage that the department itself went through,” Altman said.
Corley wrote that CTB was expected to deliver score results by September 2015, but didn’t get them to the state until October.
“While the contract caps liquidated damages … that amount cannot begin to make Indiana whole,” Corley wrote. “Accordingly, IDOE demands $4M in damages from CTB for failure to timely deliver (test results), as well as the delay caused by the rescore in full and final resolution of all disputed issues between IDOE and CTB.”
Scores for the 2015 ISTEP scores were delayed in part because of reported problems with grading new computer-enhanced questions that allow students to manipulate the information on screen in ways that were impossible on prior tests.
Those scoring problems ultimately derailed the entire scoring process, delaying the release of exam results. The delay forced the state to postpone the release of A-F school accountability grades and to bar, for one year, the use of student test results in evaluating and paying teachers.
The Indiana General Assembly passed “hold harmless” legislation swiftly during the first few weeks of the legislative session in January.
“The delay was so disruptive to Indiana that the General Assembly had to take action during the legislative session following the administration of the ISTEP+ test to limit harm to teachers who were at risk of not receiving a performance award,” Corley wrote.
This was the fourth time for which ISTEP issues can be traced back to problems at CTB. In April of 2013, 16 percent of all Indiana students taking ISTEP, about 78,000 kids, experienced interruptions during their tests. That year, letter grades weren’t released until December.
In 2011 and 2012, about 10,000 and 9,000 students respectively had online testing issues. Because of the interruptions in 2013, the state and CTB came to a settlement for $3 million.
Altman said the state currently does not have any testing contracts with CTB.
Chalkbeat reached out to CTB’s former parent company, McGraw-Hill Education, about the letter, but Catherine Mathis, the group’s chief communications officer, said officials declined to comment.
Find more Chalkbeat stories on these topics below:
- Here’s what ‘technology-enhanced’ ISTEP questions will look like
- Indiana dumps CTB-McGraw Hill, picks Pearson to create future ISTEP
- CTB: More ISTEP problems will delay results for months
- Rejecting Ritz’s logic, state board promises A-to-F grades will be issued
- In an about-face, Pence joins Ritz in calling for relief from testing sanctions
- Lawmakers say ISTEP rescore necessary to ensure accuracy in 2016
- Near unanimous support has bills to shield teachers, schools from ISTEP sanctions flying
- Pence: Indiana needs to take action to improve ISTEP
- It’s over: Pence signs bills pausing ISTEP consequences for one year
- ISTEP rescore plans reduced after lawmakers consider high costs, expert advice
- Senate panel nixes pricey ISTEP rescore