Education Department outlines plan for Oklahoma tests disrupted by computer glitches

Officials at the state Education Department announced their plans for moving forward after about 3,000 tests were disrupted by computer problems earlier this week.
BY CARRIE COPPERNOLL ccoppernoll@opubco.com Modified: May 1, 2013 at 10:20 pm •  Published: May 2, 2013
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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.”

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AT A GLANCE

WHAT NOW?

The state Education Department announced Wednesday what will happen to exams that were disrupted by computer failures.

All unanswered questions will be counted as incorrect on incomplete tests.

Students who scored enough questions correctly will pass the test, even if they didn't finish. For example, 45 right answers are needed to pass a 60-question test. If the student completed 45 right answers, he will pass the test, even if he wasn't able to finish all 60 questions. So, if a student was disrupted on question No. 44, the test won't count, regardless of how many questions she answered correctly.

Students who passed the tests but were interrupted can retake the tests if they want to try to get a higher score.

High school students taking the English II and English III end-of-instruction exams can retake the online part but don't have to redo the writing portion.

Districts can request paper exams even for online-only tests.

Students in grades 3, 4 and 5 won't have to retake any tests because they use paper tests.

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