hile hundreds of thousands of Hoosier third- through eighth-graders will use computers to complete the second portion of ISTEP this spring, students at one local school will use paper and pencils.
Indian Creek Intermediate School has computers students could use to take the test. But the Indiana Department of Education told the school that their classroom sets of netbooks are too old for the upcoming ISTEP exam.
With not enough time to buy new devices or upgrade the software, Indian Creek’s roughly 400 third-, fourth- and fifth-graders will take the technology-enhanced portion of the exam by hand, instead of with computers, Superintendent Tim Edsell said.
The computers at Indian Creek Middle School also need to be upgraded, but those students all have school-issued iPads, which they can use to complete the online portion of ISTEP, he said.
Story continues below gallery
Edsell isn’t worried about whether students’ taking the technology-enhanced section of the test with paper and pencil will affect their scores. But the school district will need to update the software of the schools’ computers and possibly purchase new devices so students can take the second half of ISTEP online next year. And he said that’s going to be expensive.
“It’s going to be very costly,” Edsell said. “We’re just going to have to prioritize within our 2015 budget.”
Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson United School Corp. isn’t the only Johnson County school district that needed to update its software for ISTEP. Last fall, the department of education notified Franklin schools that the school district needed to update the software on its computers, from Windows XP to Windows 7, director of technology Matt Sprout said.
Franklin already had planned to make that software update on its computers this semester, so technology workers started with the devices at the elementary schools to ensure they would be ready for ISTEP, Sprout said.
Schools typically pay for computers, software and other technology expenses with money from their capital projects fund, which is paid for with property tax dollars. Some school districts, including Franklin, have less money to spend from that fund because property tax caps limit the amount of money school districts can collect.
Edsell doesn’t know yet what it will cost to upgrade schools’ computers and software, partly because the district must assess which devices need new software and which ones need to be replaced entirely.
He said budgeting to upgrade the computers and software also means the school district will have less money for building repair and maintenance.
“It’s not as easy as what it seems, because you’ve got to take a look at your facilities, and which ones you want to upgrade, and even your equipment,” he said.