TEXAS, USA — Technical problems are becoming the standard for standardized tests in Texas.
On Tuesday, students taking the STAAR exam were kicked out of tests, had trouble submitting answers, were unable to log back in and were experiencing slow load times on the site.
“It was not a good day for the state of Texas," Scott Muri, ECISD superintendent said. "As many are aware, the technical issues affected schools, teachers and kids all across our state at elementary levels, middle school levels and high school levels."
The hundreds of Midland and Ector County ISD students who had problems taking the STAAR test will likely make up the exam next week.
"Some of our students, believe it or not, were actually able to finish the test yesterday," Muri said. "However, a majority of students never started. Those makeups will be determined by the state. We anticipate it will be next week."
As far as the vendor the state uses to take the exam, Educational Testing Service (ETS), well this will be the last year the state uses them.
This is not the first time this has happened.
There was a similar situation like this back in 2016.
It was ETS' first year as the state’s testing provider. The New Jersey-based company was fined $5.7 million dollars for damages by the TEA and ordered to spend more than $15 million dollars for improvements to its online system and test shipping.
The Texas Education Agency tells us,
“ETS, the testing vendor, experienced problems with their database system, which are in the process of being corrected. The 2021 online administration of STAAR will be ETS’s last for the State of Texas.”
According to TEA, Cambium Assessment will take over testing functions moving forward.
MISD and ECISD leaders think that is the right call.
"The contract with the testing provided is between TEA and them," Elana Ladd, MISD chief communications officer said. "What we're focusing on is a stressless testing experience for our kids."
Muri said ECISD's focus is on the students also.
“Whoever the vendor may happen to be, we want the testing experience to be healthy for our kids," Muri said. "Our students and teachers didn’t deserve what happened to them yesterday.”
The districts tell me getting this testing data is crucial in order to assess where students are at after the pandemic and a year filled with remote learning.
Both districts hope there are no issues taking tests in the coming days and weeks.