News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Editorials

June 16, 2013

EDITORIAL: Insisting on ISTEP quality lawmakers’ primary duty

Friday hearing should be fair but thorough

Now that everyone, on both sides of the aisle, seems backslappingly happy to agree that this spring’s ISTEP school testing debacle was unacceptable, that at least some of the results lack credibility and that the issue carries high-stakes significance, what next?

Two things are next.

First, as our statehouse reporter Maureen Hayden reported last week, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz has hired an outside contractor to review the test results. The National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment is to report its findings within the next month or so.

Second, the president of the company whose computer server failures caused disruptions of online testing on April 29, April 30 and May 3, is scheduled to testify before lawmakers on Friday about what went wrong. The legislators, members of a summer study committee scrutinizing at least this latest foul-up in administering ISTEP in Hoosier schools, will hear from CTB/McGraw Hill’s Ellen Haley, a veteran of 20 years with the company and former overseer of all of CTB’s major divisions, including technology.

Haley will be asked to explain why, by the company’s own count, 78,269 students had their ISTEP testing sessions disrupted by computer server failures. That is about one-sixth of the 482,000 Indiana students tested.

And that is the reason for the concern about the validity of those students’ test results in a start-and-stop-then-restart mode. As parents of school-age students know, ISTEP can be a nerve-racking period for both student and parent without the burden of technology frustrating test takers.

The high stakes from ISTEP are that its results have been used — or are contemplated to be used — in determining a school’s A-F letter grade from the state, in distributing state funds, in assessing individual teachers’ performance and in affecting teachers’ pay.

As we are sure will be the case, Haley needs to be fairly heard and questioned. She and her company have every right to make their case. She has the right to prove the truth of this self-praising statement from CTB/McGraw Hill’s website (www.ctb.com): “Our industry-leading research expertise ensures that any assessment we develop provides the basis for meaningful, high confidence inferences and conclusion.”

If CTB’s explanation is not convincing, two others things should happen next:

~ CTB should be made to pay the cost for the outside review of results, which could reach $53,600. Actually, for all of the inconvenience CTB has admitted it caused, it ought to refund four or five times that amount. Given that CTB has a $95-million, four-year contract with Indiana to administer ISTEP, it is not unreasonable that taxpayers expect that kind of rebate in absence of satisfactory service.

~ If CTB cannot assure that such technology problems won’t be repeated in next year’s ISTEP administration, then the state should look into voiding the remaining year of its contract with CTB and find another test administrator. That is fair, given that this is actually the third straight year in which ISTEP has suffered technology difficulties — which means all three years of CTB’s contract.

Those should be the high financial stakes CTB or any successor faces if it fails to provide the quality of service the state is paying for.

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Editorials
  • EDITORIAL: Pondering the jail problem

    Our compliments to Vigo County Councilman Mark D. Bird for taking the time and investing the thought and energy into writing his detailed letter to the editor on the topic of the county’s jail, published in this newspaper on April 13.

    April 19, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Get smart with 911

    Worst-case scenarios when emergency service are needed are not things people like to think about. But focused attention on details in advance could make a life-changing, even life-saving, difference in the future.

    April 17, 2014

  • tstribunestar EDITORIAL: Dealing with eroded trust

    Our neighbors in Putnam County are understandably concerned, even outraged, over problems in their sheriff’s department. People have a right to expect their chief law-enforcement agency — one of the most important public institutions in any community — to operate professionally and effectively.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • EDITORIAL: Preparing for voting changes

    The primary election, during which Hoosiers will traipse to their polling places to select party candidates to fill the ballot for the general election, is now three weeks away.

    April 15, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Noteworthy in the news (Honors for outstanding women)

    Honors for outstanding women
    Sprucing up around the wetlands
    You can say that again
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    April 13, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Teaming up to fight the ugliness of graffiti

    Graffiti hurts the Terre Haute community. It deflates property values and local pride. It literally paints an image of carelessness on the city.

    April 12, 2014

  • GUEST EDITORIAL: Despite high court ruling, big money may not guarantee election success

    The Supreme Court has taken the predictable next step in the wake of its 2010 Citizens United decision in which it lifted the limit on donations wealthy donors can make to certain political entities.

    April 11, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Warm thoughts for Waltman

    When Royce Waltman left Indiana State University as its head basketball coach in 2007, there was a sense of disappointment in the community that covered a broad spectrum.

    April 11, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Road work season requires motorists’ undivided attention

    Spring’s budding flowers, trees and grasses are not the only colorful eye candy popping up on the west-central Indiana landscape. Those orange barrels and pylons common to construction areas are appearing as well.

    April 9, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Dangers lurking among us

    Hardly a week goes by without multiple stories being published in this newspaper detailing the arrests, court proceedings, convictions or sentencings of individuals involved in sex crimes against children or young teens. It’s a disturbing trend that underscores the ever-present dangers that exist where we may least expect them.

    April 9, 2014 1 Story

  • EDITORIAL: Noteworthy in the news (New roles for proven leaders)

    A couple of familiar faces in Terre Haute in the realm of public affairs are taking on new jobs, and we take the opportunity today to express confidence in their selections and best wishes for the future.

    April 6, 2014

  • Editorial: Fast lane for road projects

    Our interstate, national and state highways carry millions of people through and across Indiana each year. Those roadways form the physical connections among our communities.

    April 5, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: A keen eye on ballots

    Our governmental process has challenges at times, but it’s people like Margaret Taylor who make navigating the bumps in the road all worthwhile.

    April 3, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: More jobs from Casey’s

    Local politicians and public officials had been hinting that a major jobs-creation announcement for Vigo County would be made in early 2014.

    April 2, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Indiana 641 worth the wait

    The fabled Indiana 641 bypass around the southeast side of Terre Haute has been a bit of a haunted project. Conceived in the late 1980s by visionary local transportation planners and approved by public officials in 1990, it’s hard to believe that today it remains incomplete.

    April 1, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: New jail is right approach

    It’s prudent that Vigo County’s governmental officials are reluctant to commit money toward an expert study of how to fix problems at our county jail — which is beset with inmate overcrowding, inefficient design, irreparable equipment and few good options for expanding.

    March 30, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Safety on scooters

    As the dust settles around the big issues that dominated the recent session of the Indiana General Assembly, some of the more mundane yet important results of the session are coming to light.

    March 28, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Citizens have until April 7 to become eligible to vote

    Vigo County’s voting process is undergoing a dramatic change this year. Voting centers are replacing precinct polling places, and a touch-screen electronic voting system replaces the pen-and-paper ballot. This represents long-overdue progress, a major advancement in the way people elect candidates for public office.

    March 27, 2014

  • tstribunestar EDITORIAL: Bike park plan on a roll

    If you have never explored the remote reaches of the wilderness area at Fowler Park, you may not truly appreciate the potential it has for recreational use by residents or visitors.

    March 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Editorial: Noteworthy in the news (When spelling is a family affair)

    It hasn’t happened often, but it’s always a great day when it does.

    March 25, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Perfect place for pilot pre-K

    National political experts closely watch Vigo County each presidential election.

    March 23, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Banking on the future

    The largest and most influential bank in the two-state region centered in Terre Haute seems to have a historical affinity for years ending in the numeral 4.

    March 22, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Are you prepared?

    Indiana is winding down its observance of Severe Weather Preparedness Week, a time set aside to remind us that volatile weather frequently accompanies the arrival of spring.

    March 21, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Calm before the storms

    Spring, as the saying goes, has sprung. It happened Thursday, as the March breeze pushed temps into the 50s and set up what promises to be a spectacular day in the mid-60s today.

    March 20, 2014

  • tstribunestar EDITORIAL: A place in the sun

    This is Sunshine Week, named not for the approaching mild (and hopefully sunny) season of spring, but to promote openness and transparency in  government at all levels.

    March 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • tstribunestar EDITORIAL: Legal questions, legal answers

    When the Republican-dominated Indiana General Assembly earlier this year passed a bill trying to amend the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage, many saw it as a small-minded, homophobic, even hateful attack on gay couples and a deprivation of civil rights under the constitution.

    March 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • EDITORIAL: An event worth watching

    Just across that invisible boundary between campus and city, knowledge, perspectives and — yes — opinions abound on topics of vital import to our lives in the 21st century.

    March 16, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Legislative session produced results both good and bad

    The 2014 session of the Indiana General Assembly was gaveled to a close late Thursday after a flurry of activity produced a dizzying variety of legislative action. Within hours, the session results were being both praised and cursed, largely depending on political and ideological views of government’s place in the world.

    March 16, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Noteworthy in the news

    In the competitive and highly entertaining world of collegiate athletics, Sunday is akin to a national holiday. At 6 p.m., the NCAA will announce the field and seedings of its 2014 Division I men’s basketball tournament.

     

    March 14, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Our children in poverty

    An important gauge for measuring the long-term prospects of a community is the well-being of its children. For all the effort and progress Vigo County has made in rebuilding the economy and improving its quality of life, chronic problems with the welfare of its children still exist.

    March 13, 2014

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