Junior high teacher admits ISTEP+ tampering
Thursday, May 09, 2013 11:00 AM
A Madison Junior High School teacher retired this week after an investigation by the Indiana Department of Education found irregularities in 16 of 29 students' ISTEP+ test results at the school.
Toni Tuttle, a sixth-grade teacher, announced her retirement after the findings were released.
School board president Todd Bass announced at Wednesday's school board meeting that there had been an investigation. Neither Superintendent Ginger Studebaker-Bolinger nor school corporation attorney Mark Wynn would specify what the irregularities were.
Because of the irregularities, the Indiana Department of Education will invalidate the ISTEP+ test taken by Tuttle's students.
According to a written statement released by the board during the meeting, the invalidation of the scores means those 29 students will not receive ISTEP + performance scores, and the action will have a negative impact on both the school letter grade and the corporation letter grade issued after test results are calculated.
Those students will have to retake the exam next year, Bolinger said.
"They won't be eligible to take it again until next year. We do have other classroom assessments to measure our student's growth that we'll be showing the parents," Bolinger said. Those measures include ISTEP+ preparation tests and classroom assessments.
A school and school corporation's ISTEP+ letter grade holds significant bearing on future state funding.
Bass read Tuttle's letter at the meeting.
"I regret that after 30 years serving the students and parents of this community, I chose to undertake conduct during ISTEP testing that violated the process, procedures and rules of the test. I am truly sorry for those choices that have led to the invalidation of those test scores," Tuttle wrote.
Parents reported the issues to school officials on March 25, which led the administration to inform the Indiana Department of Education of the initial report from parents. The education department followed that with an investigation into the classroom.
"After a thorough investigation, it was determined that testing security had been compromised. The investigation revealed 16 of 29 high-ability students reported testing irregularities," the board said in its release.
Bolinger said that the situation was regrettable, but that steps are being taken to keep it from happening again.
"We believe this was an isolated classroom incident and support our professional faculty members who administer high-stakes assessments on a regular basis," Bolinger said.
Tuttle's retirement is effective June 3.