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Glitches Prompt Suspension Of Oklahoma Tests... Again

State Superintendent Janet Barresi during an April 2014 press conference announcing problems with the state's standardized testing vendor.
Nate Robson
/
Oklahoma Watch
State Superintendent Janet Barresi during Monday's State Department of Education press conference.

Updated at 2:26 p.m. after a State Department of Education press conference.

For the second consecutive year, standardized testing for Oklahoma students has been disrupted, prompting the state superintendent to suspend all online testing for the day.

Superintendent Janet Barresi directed testing vendor CTB/McGraw Hillto suspend its testing Monday after disruptions for students taking high school end-of-instruction exams and tests in grades six through eight.

“It is hard to describe how frustrated and angry I am,” Barresi said during a press conference Monday. “We will certainly hold this company accountable.”

Students who attempted to take the tests encountered numerous error messages and officials have halted those tests. Education officials say student responses should be saved up to the point of disruption, so students can complete the tests once the system is back online.

A similar glitch stalled testing last year in Oklahoma and elsewhere, but Barresi said Monday’s outage was unrelated.

“One of the demands that I made [after last year’s outage] is that if there was a disruption, we need to be able to save those students’ place, so they can come back and complete the test,” Barresi said. “The company has assured us that has taken place.”

http://youtu.be/3TIz9AVa_f4

CTB/McGraw Hill issued a statement Monday evening saying ``a network service interruption'' affected some schools that use the tests. The company said the problem was identified and corrected within three hours.
 
Oklahoma Watch’s Nate Robson reports the state only stuck with CTB/McGraw-Hill after last year's outage because it was too late in year to get a new vendor. Ending the contract would mean finding a new vendor and creating a new test, which could take up to a year-and-a-half.

The executive directors of the Oklahoma State School Boards Association, the United Suburban Schools Association and the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration issued a statement saying the efforts of students who prepared for the tests were wasted.

“We expect our students to be prepared for these assessments because the stakes are so high,” the leaders said in a joint press release. “These days it seems that accountability is a one way street, only applying to local school districts.”

A spokesperson for Edmond Public Schools says students at Edmond Santa Fe High School, Edmond Memorial High School and Sequoyah Middle Schools were disrupted.

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Brian Hardzinski is from Flower Mound, Texas and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He began his career at KGOU as a student intern, joining KGOU full time in 2009 as Operations and Public Service Announcement Director. He began regularly hosting Morning Edition in 2014, and became the station's first Digital News Editor in 2015-16. Brian’s work at KGOU has been honored by Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI), the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, the Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters, and local and regional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists. Brian enjoys competing in triathlons, distance running, playing tennis, and entertaining his rambunctious Boston Terrier, Bucky.
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Oklahoma Watch is a non-profit organization that produces in-depth and investigative journalism on important public-policy issues facing the state. Oklahoma Watch is non-partisan and strives to be balanced, fair, accurate and comprehensive. The reporting project collaborates on occasion with other news outlets. Topics of particular interest include poverty, education, health care, the young and the old, and the disadvantaged.
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