Oklahoma End of Year Testing Disrupted by Tech Glitches – Again

For the second year in a row middle school and high school students in Oklahoma experienced computer-related disruptions during standardized testing. Sean Murphy reports for the Associated Press, via the Huffington Post, that Oklahoma Public Schools Superintendent, Janet Barresi, had CTB/McGraw-Hill suspend testing in the wake of slow and frozen computers.

High school students were taking end-of-instruction exams, while the sixth through eighth graders were taking standardized tests.  Last year, schools in Indiana, Kentucky and Minnesota were also disrupted.  Indiana was using the CTB/McGraw-Hill testing materials as well.

 CTB/McGraw Hill issued a statement Monday evening apologizing for the disruption and saying that a “network service interruption” affected some schools and that the problem was found and corrected within three hours.

“We worked with our technology vendor to isolate and correct the troubled network electronics,” according to the statement from company spokesman Brian Belardi.

“We note that today’s event is unrelated to the capacity of CTB’s IT infrastructure, which has been greatly enhanced since 2013,” the statement said.

Because of time constraints, the state had to renew its contract with CTB.  Barresi says that steps were taken by state educators to ensure that this problem would not recur, leading to the conclusion on the part of the superintendent that this problem was entirely the fault of CTB.  She added that this sort of disruption is a “big deal”.  The rescheduling is going to be a hardship for students, teachers, and parents.  Approximately 8,100 students were affected by these interruptions.  Educators explained that rescheduling can affect students’ mindset and their performance on the tests,

After last year’s problems, Oklahoma settled with CTB for more that $1.2 million in damages, which was dispersed to school districts and used for teacher training.

One Oklahoma district superintendent, Rob Miller, proposed a solution.

He hopes the state will abandon computer testing and go back to paper and pencil because he said the schools have gotten back quicker results from the traditional format and would not have to worry about these crippling crashes. His concern now, though, is for the students.

TheIndyChannel.com staff reports that, as of now, some schools do not know whether the students will be given another chance at the tests which were in process on Monday, or whether the test scores will be invalidated.

According to Tulsa’s Channel 8, an ABC affiliate, the State Department of Education is frustrated and concerned over the problem.  Testing in the third grade and fifth grade was not affected by the glitch since their testing is done with pencil and testing booklet.  CTB/McGraw-Hill is paid $7.2 million for middle school tests and $6.2 million for high school testing.  As of yesterday, CTB had announced that the problem had been addressed and has been remedied.  The company says that testing can continue today.

Oklahoma administers the OSTEP testing device.  OSTEP stands for Oklahoma School Testing Program.  The high school end-of-instruction testing is the EOI.

04 23, 2014
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