Technology fails again for students taking Oklahoma state tests

State testing for about 2,000 Oklahoma students came to a halt Monday because of a server malfunction. A similar problem happened Tuesday, frustrating educators across the state.
BY JACLYN COSGROVE and CARRIE COPPERNOLL Modified: April 30, 2013 at 8:09 pm •  Published: April 30, 2013


photo - These computer testing stations are set up in the gym at Edmond North High School in Edmond, OK, Tuesday, April 30, 2013. Students who were supposed to take tests today cannot use the computers because the server crashed, so now the computers sit unused. By Paul Hellstern, The Oklahoman
These computer testing stations are set up in the gym at Edmond North High School in Edmond, OK, Tuesday, April 30, 2013. Students who were supposed to take tests today cannot use the computers because the server crashed, so now the computers sit unused. By Paul Hellstern, The Oklahoman

For the second day in a row, Oklahoma students taking state exams — some of them required for high school graduation — were booted out of online programs by a technology failure.

Tuesday morning, about 1,000 junior high and high school students were prevented from finishing the tests midway through when servers crashed, according to the state Education Department.

Students experienced a similar problem Monday when the company that administers state exams, CTB/McGraw-Hill, experienced server malfunctions while uploading student testing results.

State schools Superintendent Janet Barresi said she was outraged.

“This is especially disruptive for the children who have worked hard all year and now have the opportunity to let us know what they have achieved,” she said in a statement. “To be interrupted during testing is a very difficult and stressful environment for our children and educators.”

A McGraw-Hill representative did not return multiple phone calls and emails Tuesday.

The state Education Department is offering school districts other testing options, including paper tests.

The agency also is looking at giving districts more time to test students.

Thousands affected

The crash Monday caused 2,000 middle school and high school students to stop testing, state schools Assistant Superintendent Maridyth McBee said. Tuesday, about 1,000 students were affected. The cause of the crash is unknown.

Many of the stalled tests were state-mandated end-of-instruction exams. Oklahoma high school students must pass at least four of the seven EOI tests to graduate.

A disruption of these high-stakes tests is especially concerning, said Glenda Choate, testing coordinator for Edmond Public Schools.

“The pressure is on those students,” Choate said. “There's so much riding on those tests. They need them to graduate.”

Edmond Public Schools canceled testing for Tuesday afternoon, Choate said, adding that administrators would rather postpone tests than risk poor testing conditions for students.

Students taking the Algebra I exam at John Marshall High School in northwest Oklahoma City were repeatedly interrupted, Principal Aspasia Carlson said.

“I just keep asking everyone to be patient and diligent and work through it,” Carlson said. “It's been a nightmare.”

A dozen testing sites were affected in Putnam City schools, testing coordinator Bob Melton said.

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