Nebraska Writing Test Scores Scrapped Over Technical Errors

According to Nebraska education officials, there were enough problems with the state writing tests this year that the scores will not be used in conjunction with assessment of school performances.

“The state won’t use the scores,” said Valorie Foy, director of statewide assessment for the Nebraska Department of Education.

Fourth graders who took the exam used pencil and paper problem-free.  Their results will be released next month.

However, 8th and 11th graders took it online, repeatedly being kicked offline during the test causing them to lose portions of their writing.  Joe Dejka reported for website Omaha.com that Lincoln Public Schools temporarily stopped their testing due to server capability issues among other issues.

It is not clear whether the state will have to pay Data Recognition Corp the $177,000 for this year’s test, although the contract was renewed for next year after the company apologized for the issues and promised to improve the system.

The state has a contract with the company worth $5.4 million to supply all Nebraska State Accountability testing for the 2014-2015 school year.

An investigation carried out by state officials showed the problems affected at least 1,500 students, with at least 500 students in the state’s 87 districts losing work, and 1,000 being kicked offline at least once.  The state has 44,000 students in 8th and 11th grades.  They were unable to conclude how many times this had happened to each student over the course of the entire exam, causing them to decide to toss the results, writes Margaret Reist for The Journal Star.

“We had a number of districts who formally contacted us and asked that the scores not be released based on their students’ experience,” said Foy.

Parents will receive their child’s test scores for this year with a written explanation of what happened.

An ongoing discussion is still occurring about whether to forward the results to the US Department of Education, a requirement of the No Child Left Behind Law.  The state did not send the scores last year, and it is unclear what with the result will be if it does not send them two years in a row.