A number of schools across the country have been reporting technical issues concerning the implementation of the new online system for state exams tied to the federal Common Core standards.
In Georgia, an unknown number of students were affected by such issues, causing the state superintendent to say he is considering what steps to take next.
"It is still unacceptable to have even one district having a problem when our testing contract calls for a robust online testing program," Superintendent Richard Woods said in a message to districts. "We will be holding CTB McGraw-Hill accountable for this mistake, I assure you."
The state signed a $107 million contract with McGraw-Hill last year to create the exam. However, the state is allowed some form of repayment in the event that the company is unable to deliver, writes Kathleen Foody for The Washington Times.
According to company spokesman Brian Belardi, employees were hard at work to correct the problems as students took the exams. He went on to say that while over 2 million tests were successfully taken, every student should have the same experience.
"We take responsibility for the difficulties that some students and educators have experienced to date with the online system, and we will continue to do everything in our power to resolve any issues and improve the experience for the remainder of the testing window," he said.
Districts across the state were ordered to switch over to paper and pencil testing as issues with the online system began to be reported to state officials. Online testing was supposed to account for 30% of testing in the state this year.
Meanwhile, several severe problems, including a systemwide crash, were reported in Nevada, North Dakota and Montana. While issues are continuous in Nevada, the other states have seen improvements.
All three states used tests developed by New Hampshire-based Measured Progress. Legal options are currently being discussed with state attorneys general in each situation.
North Dakota has experienced a number of technical glitches, including not allowing some students to log into the system. So far, 21 of the 179 school districts in the state have needed to switch over to paper and pencil testing this year.
School districts in other rural portions of the country are also experiencing problems, as schools such as Cuyama Valley High School in California have low bandwidth, making it difficult to administer the new standardized tests to students online.
Across the country, 63% of schools do not have enough bandwidth to fully implement digital learning. In rural and low-income areas, the problem runs much deeper, as only 14% of those areas meet high-speed internet requirements.
A $1.5 billion spending cap increase for school broadband and Wi-Fi was approved last year by the Federal Communications Commission in the hopes of fixing the problem. There are also state grants available linked to Common Core implementation for additional funding; however, it could take up to a year to connect all the schools in need, and in the meantime, online testing is already here.