MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

October 10, 2013

Computer problems didn’t hurt test scores, panel told


Associated Press

— OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An independent study found a massive computer glitch in April that affected thousands of test taking students across the state had little overall impact on test scores, a state education official told Oklahoma legislators on Wednesday.

Assistant State Superintendent Maridyth McBee briefed a joint committee of House and Senate members on the impact of the computer disruption and on the latest tests being implemented statewide. The legislative hearing was requested by Senate Education Committee Chairman Sen. John Ford amid complaints from many lawmakers that students are being tested too much.

“As tests have taken on, over the years, a lot of new aspects, they’ve become high-stakes and we use them for graduation, we use them for college admission, we use them for teacher performance,” said Ford, R-Bartlesville. “What we’re doing today is not what we’re going to be doing in three, five or 10 years. It’s going to change, and we need to understand the options so that we can make the best decisions for the students and the parents of Oklahoma.”

McBee said an independent study commissioned after the testing glitch determined that students appeared to do as well on the test regardless of disruptions. Still, she said the state is recommending keeping the scores of affected students who scored proficient or advanced, but not reporting scores for affected students who scored limited knowledge or unsatisfactory.

The study determined that the most significant disruption affected algebra students in seventh and eighth grade, but that overall the impact was “relatively small.”

Many legislators say they routinely hear complaints that students are being tested too much, and the public outcry reached the Capitol last year when for the first time Oklahoma highs school seniors were required to pass End of Instruction tests before graduating.

Another problem facing Oklahoma schools, particularly those in rural areas, is a lack of technology infrastructure that allows students to take tests online.

Elaine Hutchinson, a middle school and high school math teacher at Fairview Public Schools in northwestern Oklahoma, said students there need to be bussed to other schools or the local career-technology center to take online tests.

“That’s time taken away from learning,” Hutchinson said.