Technical issues postponed STAAR test for some area students.
The Texas Education Agency said there were connectivity issues with the STAAR Online Testing Platform that prevented students from accessing the test, according to a release sent out by the agency.
Districts began administering the state’s assessment tests Tuesday. The three tests affected were the fourth-grad writing, seventh-grade writing and English I.
“This was the first of five days that students were eligible to take one of these three tests online,” the TEA said.
Just after 10:15 a.m. Tuesday, the agency told districts about the issues and advised them to halt testing until the problem was solved with hopes of resuming online testing Tuesday, the release stated.
At Seguin ISD, some students were affected by the outage. Four of Seguin ISD’s campuses participated in online testing Tuesday — Jefferson, Rodriguez, Weinert and McQueeney, Seguin ISD Spokesman Sean Hoffman said. With 30 fourth graders slated to test Tuesday, 21 were able to successfully submit their finished exams.
“There are still 51 fourth graders who will test online during the online testing window extension,” he said. “The remaining fourth graders will all test on paper this week.”
Both Barnes and Briesemeister middle schools had a combined 97 seventh grade students testing online Tuesday, only four of whom were able to submit their finished exams, Hoffmann said.
“There are still 362 seventh graders who will test online during the online testing window extension,” he said. “The remaining seventh graders will test on paper this week.”
Seguin High School and Mercer Blumberg Learning Center had 85 students scheduled to take the English 1 STAAR test on Tuesday. Only five were able to submit their completed test. An additional 69 students are set to test online.
The students will have the opportunity to finish where they left off, Hoffmann said.
“Students who were unable to continue testing today can make the test up tomorrow,” he said on Tuesday. “The test will pick up where they left off. Those who have not yet started can make the test up tomorrow or next week.”
Navarro ISD Superintendent Wendi Russell said several students at three of her campuses were affected by the Tuesday morning outage.
A total of 65 students from Navarro Intermediate Schoo, Navarro Junior High School and Navarro High School were set to take the online assessment Tuesday, while the rest of the students were administered the paper version.
Of the 65 students slated for the online test, 36 were able to successfully complete the exam Tuesday, as well as all of the student who took the paper version, Russell said.
“For the 29 students who were unable to login or gain access to complete the test today, those students will be scheduled to complete their test on an alternative day,” Russell said. “As a district, we would like to proceed with testing tomorrow, but will await guidance from the Texas Education Agency on the correction of the online issue as well as testing procedures to ensure that students are successful.”
Marion ISD also had three campuses that felt the affects of the outage.
“We did experience issues with STAAR online testing today in grades 4th, 7th, and 9th grade so three campuses were affected — Karrer Elementary, Marion Middle, and Marion High,” Marion Superintendent Kelly Lindhold said.. “We had 60 students prepared to test online today; however, they were not able to complete their assessment online due to the technical issues within the ETS system.
Lindhold was hopeful testing would go on as planned Wednesday with minimal interruption.
As of noon, the TEA was also still working to determine how many students across the state ran into an issue.
Students faced a myriad of issues, including completing the test only experience slow response times; not being able to log into to the system at all; or logging in and starting the exam only to get stopped and unable to move forward. In the last case, the system began conducting automatic saves every 30 seconds to prevent the student from losing any work they had already completed, the TEA said.
Hoffmann said it is frustrating for adults when technology doesn’t work like it should and those feelings are most likely compounded in these students who have spent months preparing for the state assessment.
“Our students and our parents have become accustom to STAAR being a high stakes exam,” he said. “But it is frustrating when you’re attempting to login, take the state exam or are in the middle of the state exam and the system crashes and you get locked out. It can be frustrating.”
Some students were able to complete the exam with minimal issues, the agency said.
“We understand the frustration this has caused students, parents, teachers, and administrators,” the TEA said. “What happened today is completely unacceptable. ETS, the testing vendor, experienced problems with their database system, which are in the process of being corrected.”
The TEA plans to change vendors next school year. Cambium Assessment will handle the agency’s online testing platform, the agency said.
“All involved in public education in Texas should expect better than what they have experienced today; we are working to ensure that our students do not experience future testing issues,” it said.