Elia: Computer testing problems ‘unacceptable’

State to review contract with testing firm
NYS Education Commissioner Mary Ellen Elia talks to Daily Gazette Editorial staff in 2017.
NYS Education Commissioner Mary Ellen Elia talks to Daily Gazette Editorial staff in 2017.

State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, in a joint statement with state Board of Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa, called statewide computer testing problems this week “unacceptable,” and promised to review the state’s contract with testing company Questar Assessment.

Questar was blamed for a cascade of delays and disruptions across the state Wednesday, as teachers and students tried to take computer-based English Language Arts exams. In a three-sentence statement released Thursday afternoon, Questar blamed the problems on an “issue with our hosting vendor,” and said the problems were solved. The company did not provide further details and would not answer questions from The Daily Gazette.

Local districts reported trying to get students logged into the tests for an hour or more in some places before postponing tests to Thursday. Testing ran more smoothly on Thursday, according to reports from district and state officials.

“The difficulties schools have faced in administering computer-based assessments are inexcusable,” the state’s top education policymakers said in the statement issued Friday. “We will accept nothing short of seamless implementation for our students and schools testing on computers.”

Elia said Education Department staff have been in communication with Questar officials throughout the week and planned to continue those talks through the weekend to ensure problems don’t persist next week or when math testing starts on May 1. The department has directed Questar to provide a “root-cause analysis” of the problem, as well as a plan for preventing future issues.

Elia and Rosa also promised to review the state’s contact with Questar “to determine appropriate next steps for recourse for New York state.” 

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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