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Ed Dept. Shuts Down Computer Testing

There will be no computer-based testing for New York state schools participating in the digital version of the ongoing 3-8 ELA assessments today, state officials announced.

The New York State Education Department, responding to complaints of delays during testing, announced Tuesday that today will be a “non-testing” day for computer-based testing, or CBT.

An issue with the vendor Questar, that handles CBT in the state, caused SED to delay testing for a day to fix ongoing issues.

Questar reported more than 84,000 testing sessions were submitted on Tuesday, according to SED Spokesperson Emily DeSantis. Additional support from Questar was provided to schools around the state.

In the Falconer Central School District, the only significant issue observed was during testing submissions. Falconer Superintendent Stephen Penhollow said there was about a 10- to 15-minute delay when students attempted to submit their tests. Other than the minor glitch, Penhollow said the overall testing was “smooth.”

“We were very fortunate,” Penhollow told The Post-Journal while acknowledging the statewide issue.

Penhollow said grades 3-5 will complete their portion of the testing on Friday while grades 6-8 will begin their testing on April 8. School districts can choose different scheduling for their test taking, but cannot resume until after today to allow for maintenance time. The deadline for the state testing has been prolonged until April 12 to accommodate the delay.

CBT is in a pilot program initially as more schools elect to participate each year with the end goal of transitioning all state schools to CBT for particular assessments.

Ahead of the delays for the 2018-19 school year, the New York State United Teachers union launched a new campaign aimed at demanding state action regarding the “flawed” testing on Monday.

The teachers organization cited the testing being flawed and invalid, benchmarks mislabeling children, testing times being too long, concerns with untimed testing, testing being developmentally inappropriate and CBT being rolled out too quickly.

On Tuesday following reports of delays, NYSUT released a statement.

“Students across the state are barely 24 hours into this year’s computer-based testing period for grades 3-8, and we already are receiving reports of widespread computer failures similar to the issues that created havoc in 2018,” the statement read.

The teacher’s union called for the halting of computer-based testing.

An official statement from the New York State Council of School Superintendents also addressed the reported issues: “… it is being reported that students across the state are experiencing extended delays in attempting to participate in computer-based versions of the state’s grades three through eight mathematics assessments. Some students have not been able to login at all and some have lost work, requiring them to start over. Similar problems were reported a year ago.”

Erie-2 BOCES District Superintendent David O’Rourke said the “non-testing” day is not an indication that the errors are worse than last year, but rather indicates the state is focused on fixing the ongoing issues before students return to testing. He was hopeful the glitches can be rectified for this year’s testing and for the future of CBT.

“I hope we can get this right,” O’Rourke told The Post-Journal. “Computer-based testing has a lot of advantages in the long run for less time taking tests, for kids assessments and more items being available and released to the field.”

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