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Oklahoma's school testing system disrupted for second time in two years

More than 8,100 students across Oklahoma were affected.
by Jennifer Palmer Modified: April 21, 2014 at 9:52 pm •  Published: April 21, 2014

Computerized testing was suspended Monday for 8,100 students after a contracted company’s technology failed to perform, frustrating students, parents and educators.

CTB/McGraw-Hill took responsibility for the company-wide interruption, which was resolved at 11 a.m.

“Although all systems are running as anticipated, we continue to provide enhanced network monitoring and management to ensure the health and stability of the McGraw-Hill Education network,” the company said in a statement.

It is up to the individual school districts whether to resume testing Tuesday, a spokeswoman for the state Education Department said. Spring testing began April 10 and runs through May 7, although the window could be extended.

State schools Superintendent Janet Barresi said she demanded the company send a representative to Oklahoma to answer questions.

“It is hard to describe how frustrated and angry I am,” Barresi said. “Our time right now is devoted to making sure we are looking at every option for these students.”

It was the second consecutive year the company experienced problems, after a server issue in April 2013 delayed testing for two days, affecting 9,000 students in Oklahoma. Despite assurances the bugs were worked out, and a practice run a few weeks ago, the system crashed again. This time, the company attributes the failure to computer hardware.

Barresi said the state Education Department didn’t want to use the vendor again this year, but there wasn’t time to negotiate with another. An “enormous amount” of demands were made of the company this year, including giving students the ability to save responses to complete a test at a later time.

She said she will not recommend contract renewal for the next fiscal year.

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by Jennifer Palmer
Investigative Reporter
Jennifer Palmer joined The Oklahoman staff in 2008 and, after five years on the business desk, is now digging deeper through investigative work. She's been recognized with awards in public service reporting and personal column writing. Prior to...
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