MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

May 1, 2013

Schools squeezed by test problems

By Wendy Burton
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Computer problems interrupted mandatory state testing Tuesday, leaving schools with their “backs against the wall,” one official said.

Hilldale, Muskogee and Fort Gibson all reported interruptions in service as students took tests online. Consequently, all three districts must now find another day, possibly two, to make up the tests.

Hilldale Public Schools Superintendent Kaylin Coody said it’s of particular concern for Hilldale students as time in the school year is running out.

“We’re probably about two days behind schedule at this point,” Coody said. “We have our backs against the wall related to when we get out of school as well — trying to get everything squeezed in there, the activities, state testing and of course our semester tests, and our last day is the 16th.”

Coody said slowed testing on Monday and a complete disconnection from the system on Tuesday has left officials wondering if those students will have to retake the entire tests.

Testing Company CTB/McGraw Hill reported problems with their servers while uploading student assessment results, according to an Oklahoma State Department of Education media release. Students were reportedly knocked off the system mid-assessment.

State Superintendent Janet Barresi expressed her displeasure in a media release.

“This is completely unacceptable,” Barresi said. “We are outraged that our school districts are not able to administer assessments in a smooth and efficient manner.”

Barresi said the SDE is working closely with the testing company to remedy the situation.

State Department’s Assistant Superintendent of Assessment and Accountability, Dr. Maridyth McBee, said the state is working closely with the testing company to find solutions that could alleviate the burden of students retaking the full tests.

Fort Gibson Superintendent Derald Glover said he understands there will be issues such as this with technology, and there must be backup plans.

“But this is part of the reason we don’t want too many state-mandated exams,” Glover said. “Maybe the whole structure of testing needs to be looked at closely to see if the state has gone to too many at one time.”

Glover said the interruption is stressful for everyone — students, teachers and administrators.

“To make this up, regular classroom days will be have to be disrupted,” he said. “It’s disrupted two days already, and now it’s hard to go back and make up that time.”

Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or wburton@muskogeephoenix.com.