State postpones second day of computerized English tests


State education officials have postponed a second day of computerized English assessments for students after technical issues caused disruptions statewide.

The state Education Department says it will work with testing vendor Questar Assessment to fix the problem that affected students taking the annual assessments online Tuesday, the Associated Press reported.

Computer-based testing (CBT) for today was canceled. About a quarter of New York districts have transitioned to computers for the mandatory two-day tests, with the rest expected to follow, according to the AP report. The tests are for grades 3-8 overall.

Locally, Westmoreland administered the computer-based tests to grades 6-8, district Superintendent Rocco Migliori said today.

“Our seventh- and eighth-grade students had no trouble logging in and getting started,” Migliori observed. “The issues at that level were delayed submissions once the tests were completed.”

The district’s sixth-grade students, meanwhile, were scheduled to start about an hour later and had trouble with delayed log-ins, Migliori said. He added, “once they were logged in they completed the tests with no problems but once again had delayed submissions at the end.”

In the Adirondack Central School District, one building participated in CBT as a pilot/trial, said district clerk Michelle Freeman; West Leyden Elementary School students in grades 3-5 were administered the English Language Arts test through CBT on Tuesday.

During administration of the exam, students encountered issues logging in to the server and also had difficulty submitting their completed Session 1 exams, said Freeman. She noted "they received an error message," but "on the administrative side, we were able to see that their test was submitted." The district today verified that all student tests administered Tuesday were received by the Questar server, she added.

Among some other local school districts, Rome, Holland Patent and Vernon-Verona-Sherrill officials said they were not participating in the computer-based testing at this time.

Tests otherwise can be administered through the regular standard method, using paper tests.

Holland Patent may implement a pilot/trial program for the computer-based testing next year to see how it proceeds, said district Superintendent Jason Evangelist.

Migliori commented the state Education Department “is doing a smart thing by not requiring all schools to engage in CBT all at once. This provided the opportunity to find the kinks in the system and to make the necessary corrections before this becomes mandated for all schools.”

State officials said Minnesota-based Questar Assessment has dispatched staff around the state to assist schools regarding the computer-based test problems.

A computer issue interfered with last year’s English assessments as well, the AP said.

The state Education Department will work with Questar to “ensure the system will operate smoothly when CBT resumes,” said department spokesperson Emily DeSantis.

She added the department also will “work with schools to provide guidance on how to resolve outstanding issues” with Tuesday’s CBT administration.

New York State United Teachers, meanwhile, expressed concern about the matter.

Citing “reports of widespread computer failures similar to the issues that created havoc in 2018,” NYSUT said “despite claims to the contrary, clearly the state has not taken the actions needed to ensure that technological issues will not unduly burden students taking these already flawed state exams on computers....”


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