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Oklahoma attorney general opens inquiry into failed testing

Attorney General Scott Pruitt is asking Oklahoma school superintendents for information he can use to hold CTB/McGraw-Hill financially accountable for online testing failures that disrupted end of instruction testing for thousands of students.
by Randy Ellis Published: August 5, 2014

Attorney General Scott Pruitt is asking Oklahoma school superintendents for information he can use to hold CTB/McGraw-Hill financially accountable for online testing failures that disrupted end-of-instruction testing for thousands of students.

“My office is conducting an inquiry into the cause and effect, as well as potential damages resulting from the disruption,” Pruitt said in an Aug. 4 letter to superintendents. “This effort fundamentally is about ensuring accountability to the state, each school district and ultimately to the parents and children themselves.”

Joseph Siano, superintendent of Norman Public Schools, said he’s glad Pruitt has initiated the investigation and hopes he will consider expanding it to look at how standardized writing tests were scored.

“We don’t believe our writing tests were accurately scored ... and I think there are similar concerns across the state,” Siano said.

It is critical to have tests that produce accurate results if those tests are to be used to hold districts accountable and if teacher evaluations are to be tied to student performance, he said.

Brian Belardi, spokesman for CTB/McGraw-Hill, declined comment Tuesday.

On April 22, testing for about 8,100 Oklahoma students in grades six through 12 was disrupted by what the company described as a hardware malfunction, said Tricia Pemberton, spokeswoman for the state Education Department.

It was the second year in a row that students experienced disruptions while taking CTB/McGraw-Hill tests.

On April 29-30, 2013, what was described as a server capacity issue resulted in testing disruptions for about 9,100 students, Pemberton said.

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by Randy Ellis
Investigative Reporter
For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two...
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