Read here in Ravitch’s blog about how all testing was halted in Nevada, Montana and North Dakota because of issues:
According to the Nevada Department of Education, a spike in students taking the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBAC) this morning in Nevada, Montana and North Dakota exceeded the data capacity of Measured Progress, a third-party vendor contracted by the states to provide the test.
All testing in the three states has been stopped until Measured Progress can increase its data capacity, according to an email sent to state superintendents today by state deputy superintendent Steve Canavero.
Students who were taking the test at the time of the problem were able to finish their test, but teachers could not start new tests. About 13,000 tests were completed this morning before the errors started occurring, according to the department.
The nature of some of the problems — students being unable to log onto computers, networks running slow or completely crashing, test timers not working, work not being saved, etc. — and the fact that they were not confined to a single test vendor or cause raise concerns for next year, when the actual Core-aligned standardized tests are administered. This also raises the question of whether the results of a timed standardized test that is interrupted by computer problems should be considered valid and reliable.
And add this to that mix: The Common Core tests are being designed to be given on computer, but many school districts are still far from having the full capacity to give the tests online.
We are seeing some of these same problems occurring in Missouri. Two teachers report on the Common Core chaos in their schools. The first letter was sent to various Missouri legislators with this observation from the teacher:
I thought you’d be interested to see what a disaster this is. I’m sure that if we are experiencing this, I can only imagine what other districts are going through.
I am writing to you in a rather urgent tone to notify you that today our SBAC testing began. The urgency stems from the fact that even after months of careful preparation, additional costs to the district to upgrade fiber optics, and a full-time tech on hand to attend to any computer glitches during the testing, we are still not able to adequately test.
My building principal asked me to email you to say that we have been unsuccessful in getting our students logged on to the SBAC site. Initially, the problem appeared to be that we had too many students logged on at a time, but even those students who were successful in logging on, were swiftly booted off once they entered the testing site! Additionally, students have been moved to alternate testing sites in hopes of accessing the on-line, which has only added to their anxiety. In fact, the level of stress and anxiety in this district is at an all-time high with students in tears and staff frustrated. These conditions are outrageous.
This testing season is a disaster and many, many students are adversely affected from the experience. We are appealing to you to halt this madness before another day passes. The test scores don ’t count. The test has been declared unconstitutional. And the system is broken. Why are our leaders going forward with this madness?
We would deeply appreciate hearing from you on this urgent matter.
The second letter from a teacher in a different district:
Right now, as we speak, the counselors and principals in my middle school are cutting out and sorting 5000 testing tickets for the SBAC that we are starting on Thursday! Each student needs a ticket to be able to log on to the tests. The ticket includes their name and MOSIS ID number and district log in usernames and passwords. The ID will be entered once students have clicked on the INSIGHT icon. The colossal waste of time and resources is absolutely ridiculous! In my school district, the computers crashed during the 8th grade ELA portion of the test! It took about thirty minutes to get everyone re logged on and start again! After that, everything was pushed back and the kids just sat in class doing nothing while the rest were moved to another location to attempt to finish the test! This is insane!!!!
Missouri is having similar problems to the states in which SBAC testing has been stopped because of the inability to provide a reliable testing environment. Students and teachers should not have to be playing musical chairs in riding to alternative testing locations, sitting and staring in anticipation of testing on computers that may or may not work for tests that mean nothing in terms of accountability measures.
When will DESE stop the testing in Missouri? How much chaos must ensue before the testing is cancelled? Are the legislators concerned that instructional time is being compromised for a private company’s product development? It’s apparent DESE is not. It is way past time for the Missouri Legislature to stop this sham of educational high stakes testing.