As officials at the state Education Department outlined a plan for how to salvage two days of disrupted testing, educators and lawmakers questioned whether these spring exams should count for anything.
“This has been a debacle from the very beginning,” Tulsa Superintendent Keith Ballard said in a statement. “The validity of these tests is highly questionable. I don't see how in good conscience we can move forward with test results that are dubious at best.”
Junior high and high school students taking state exams were booted out of online programs Monday and Tuesday because of server crashes at the testing company, CTB/McGraw Hill. The crashes caused similar problems in Indiana.
Some of the exams are required for high school graduation in Oklahoma.
Many test administrators tried to allow students to finish exams rather than invalidating them. Some 90-minute tests turned into five-hour ordeals. Students weren't allowed to talk or move around while waiting for their computers to reset.
Wednesday, officials with the Education Department announced how local school district administrators will go forward. Some scores will be kept. Many will be invalidated.
Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle expressed concern and frustration about the disruption.
“How can we expect our children to be adequately engaged in a test they may have had to start and stop a couple of times?” said Rep. Arthur Hulbert, R-Fort Gibson. “Unfortunately, these errors have cost our students and teachers valuable time they could have used for learning.”
Rep. Ben Sherrer, D-Chouteau, said the solutions the Education Department has come up with are “absolutely intolerable.”
“I can't believe the state superintendent would propose to solve testing malfunction problems by using incomplete testing results and rating unanswered questions as incorrect,” Sherrer said.
2 more test days given
School districts will be allowed two extra days to administer state exams — a time frame shorter than what many educators had hoped for.
Elementary school and junior high testing now will run through May 7. The last day for high school testing is now May 14.
Testing needs to wrap up quickly for several reasons, said Dr. Maridyth McBee, assistant state superintendent for accountability and assessment.
High school administrators need to know whether certain seniors passed enough of the state-mandated, end-of-instruction exams to award diplomas.
Also, some students attend summer school based on state test scores, among other measures.
AT A GLANCE
The state Education Department announced Wednesday what will happen to exams that were disrupted by computer failures.