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We are 17 days into the testing window and the reports of problems with the “MAP” test are growing. Members of the Missouri Coalition Against Common Core are hearing stories every day from school personnel about the problems they have experienced trying to administer the test.

  • Inability to log in to the system.
  • Requirement for children to have a separate password for each section of the test (which is very confusing for 3rd graders) leading to trouble logging in.
  • Test Crashes
  • Non-functioning supports like audio that should be reading a section of text that doesn’t work
  • Non user-friendly on-screen “tools” that students can’t find or figure out to use to answer items despite practice with such tools before the actual test.
  • Delayed response times to student input causing them to retype their answer or second guess their answer because it looks like the system didn’t accept it.
  • The inability to enter the correct answer
  • Confusing instructions from DESE as to what “untimed” means (e.g. can students who run out of time be allowed to log on the next day to continue taking the test?)
  • Lack of available computers because the “untimed” nature of the test means that some kids are still working on the test beyond the alloted time in a testing room.
  • Lack of computer resources or broadband access to complete actual classroom assignments because testing is taking up both.
  • Overall lack of standardization of test conditions due to these problems.

These types of delivery system problems really call into question the accuracy of the test results in determining student performance. This is especially disturbing to parents in districts who have threatened to use these results to determine special education resource allocation, grade level advancement and course placement for next year. These problems, combined with SBAC’s admission that the tests do not yet have external validity should be enough legal fodder to go after any school district who attempts to use these test results for such critical decisions as those just mentioned. (yes folks you are getting the SBAC questions by logging in to DESE who then patches your student on through to CTB which is administering the test – this is not the old MAP test, despite districts trying to tell you it is)

MCACC would like to collect reports of testing problems so that DESE cannot report that the test only experienced a few minor issues that were quickly dealt with. Here is the link to the form. Link.  Responses will be posted on their website anonymously.

One district reported that three students, who happened to be in the honors program, were unable to enter the correct answer into the computer for an ELA question. Another teacher reported that a student had a similar problem with a math question. Entering a different answer in the first case allowed the students to proceed to the next question although obviously that was not the answer they wanted to give.  The teacher confirmed that the answer they wanted to enter was correct. The math student was forced to skip the question. This appears to be a glitch in the system, but it is interesting to note that the glitch is biased towards forcing wrong answers to be provided, not the other way around.

There are also numerous reports of students who have been very frustrated by the test. One teacher reported that she had third graders coming back into her classroom all day crying. Older students have gotten tired of the lengthy reading required and started providing random answers just to get through the test. Again these were reported as gifted students, not normally  low performing ones. Special Ed teachers were left scrambling to either repeatedly re-log in to the test or find another computer for some children with special needs who could not hear the embedded reading. In some cases they had to resort to a live person reading the text which destroys the standardization.

The non-critical year testing (3,4,6,7) was supposed to last an hour. Districts were told to resrve 90 minutes to complete this testing which was supposed to be plenty of time. The average time to complete these tests is turning out to be closer to 2 hours, and due to “untimed” nature of the tests many teachers are reporting kids taking as long as 3 hours to complete the test. At least one district is struggling so much with the glitches that they are already considering extending their school year in order to get everyone through the process. The test window closes May 30th.

Other than demonstrating that the test was not ready for prime time, what value will there be in the data generated by this spring’s testing? Where will our ROI come from?

Anne Gassel

Anne has been writing on MEW since 2012 and has been a citizen lobbyist on Common Core since 2013. Some day she would like to see a national Hippocratic oath for educators “I will remember that there is an art to teaching as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy and understanding are sometimes more important than policy or what the data say. My first priority is to do no harm to the children entrusted to my temporary care.”

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