Capital Region

Testing goes smoothly after statewide glitch

Wednesday's testing delayed by computer woes
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Categories: News, Schenectady County

Computer testing appeared to run more smoothly in local school districts Thursday, the day after a statewide glitch caused delays and disruptions for students and teachers trying to take annual state tests Wednesday.

Officials in local schools – about 15 Capital Region districts participated in computer testing this week – said they were largely able to get students logged in and started on the tests Thursday morning. A state spokesperson said the tests ran smoothly aside from some localized issues in small areas of the state.

On Wednesday, though, the first day of widespread computer testing in New York, issues cropped up in districts around the state, including in the Capital Region. Scotia-Glenville, for example, could only get students in one of its four elementary schools to actually log in and successfully finish and submit their tests. The rest of the students tried again Thursday morning. On Thursday, the district did experience “intermittent issues” getting some students tests submitted, Assistant Superintendent Karen Swain said.

By the end of the day, though, Swain said, the district was able to get caught up and finish tests that went uncompleted Wednesday.

“It was much better, a bump or two in the road, but nothing we couldn’t problem solve our way through,” Swain said Thursday evening. “Today was a much less stressful day for teachers and students.”

Schenectady, Mohonasen, Middleburgh, Saratoga Springs and other area districts also reported having issues with the computer tests Wednesday.

In Middleburgh, fourth-graders attempting computer tests had to wait about 30 or 40 minutes before they could get started, said Anne Young, the district’s director of curriculum and instruction. But she also said state officials were helpful and that the week of testing was planned to provide flexibility in case problems arose.

“I was impressed with the turnaround and the communication around the [computer testing] performance issues,” Young said.

Wednesday’s problems were sourced to Questar Assessment, the company hired to develop and deliver state tests for third- through eighth-graders in English and math. Questar said the problems were caused by an issue with their “hosting vendor.” In a short statement Thursday evening, Questar Chief Operating Office Brad Baumgartner said the “technology issue was resolved,” but did not respond to questions about what specifically had happened. He did not return a request for further comment.

In a separate statement, the state Education Department said that on Wedenesday a “security feature in the system inadvertently activated and caused the temporary delay in services.”

The department will require Questar to analyze the root cause of the problems and develop a plan to ensure a similar problem does not occur in the future, Education Department spokeswoman Emily DeSantis said in the statement.

State officials did not respond to a question about whether the testing problems would have an impact on the validity of the test results, which are seen as a key indicator of student progress.

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