MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

August 25, 2013

Testing decision smart result


— Computer problems during last spring’s standardized testing won’t adversely affect Oklahoma students who may not have performed up to their potential.

That’s based on a wise decision announced recently by the State Department of Education.

Many students reportedly were kicked off the testing system because of computer problems with the company paid to administer the tests.

The SDE reported more than 9,000 students were disrupted during the testing — normally used for teacher, school and district evaluations.

The problem was so bad that the Oklahoma Education Association wanted the test scores invalidated.

The SDE had options. It could have thrown out the test results. It could have accepted all the test results.

Barresi announced a decision that is practically Solomon-esque for both its simplicity and fairness.

Barresi announced the state will retain all scores of impacted students who scored proficient or advanced.

Barresi will not accept the scores of impacted students who scored limited knowledge or unsatisfactory.

Barresi made her decision public following a study to determine whether test scores were compromised by the disruptions.

“Even though this study suggests no systematic impact on test scores, not reporting the scores of students who scored limited knowledge or unsatisfactory will ensure there is no lasting impact on student performance,” Barresi said. “This is the right thing to do for students and for schools.”

Agreed.

The testing interruptions were not the fault of the students. And, for some, the disruption could have affected their scores.

Some students may not have performed to their highest potential.

There is no way to know that. It is only fair to take the possible negative effect of the disruptions out of the equation.

The compromise decision to accept the top scores and disregard the lower scores serves everyone as well as can be expected.

We can, however, expect the state to determine a way to guarantee the same problems don’t occur again.

The computer problems were not the fault of the state.

Once.

Twice is another matter entirely.

The state must work right now to ensure this spring’s testing is on the mark.

State Department of Education officials are the only people who deserve a failing grade if the disruption occurs this spring.