An independent review of this spring's standardized testing disruptions at Oklahoma schools has concluded. Its findings are not shocking. Interruptions may be exasperating, but they don't induce amnesia in test-takers. Children who knew the answers before a disruption still know the correct responses when they restart a test.
HumRRO, or Human Resources Research Organization, compared the scores of interrupted students with non-interrupted students, and noted the past performance of student groups to determine how those kids would reasonably be expected to perform this year.
“The evidence shows that the effect of disruption on students' scores was neither widespread nor large and the conclusions were not consistent across methods,” a HumRRO document noted.
HumRRO even found testing interruptions “did not always disadvantage the disrupted students, but at times the disrupted students did better than expected.”
A comparable review in Indiana reached similar conclusions. Disruptions did not impact most students, and some interrupted students “had somewhat larger gains across years than those who were not interrupted.” A separate HumRRO review of Minnesota testing disruptions also found no discernable effect.
In Oklahoma, HumRRO found potential impact only among one sliver of test-takers: seventh- and eighth-graders taking the Algebra I test. The State Board of Education responded by voting not to count the scores of any student who took a state core curriculum test during the disruptions and scored “unsatisfactory” or “limited knowledge.” That may have been overkill, but it ensured no students, teachers or schools will be penalized for a lower score possibly tied to testing disruption.
We don't discount the aggravation factor created by testing disruptions. We hope this problem won't be repeated. But Oklahoma teenagers face far greater hassles when seeking a driver's license test. If kids can survive that ordeal, there was never much reason to think they couldn't adapt when facing short-term computer crashes at school.