Online testing problems hit Tacoma schools again Friday

Tacoma News TribuneMay 16, 2014 

Online state testing for students in Tacoma Public Schools encountered another computer glitch Friday, as technicians worked to isolate and resolve the problem.

Both Tacoma and Vancouver schools reported problems in late April, at the start of the spring testing season.

And last week, the testing system experienced a statewide outage that lasted for about 20 minutes, with effects on individual schools varying throughout the state.

On Friday, Tacoma Public Schools spokeswoman Elle Warmuth said schools were experiencing “intermittent problems.”

“We are working with the vendor,” Warmuth said. She said Tacoma technicians were uncertain whether the issue was internal to the school district or if the problem originated with the company that contracts with Washington state to provide online testing.

The company is Minnesota-based Data Recognition Corp., which provides online testing for Washington and 14 other states. Company representatives could not be reached for comment Friday.

Tacoma schools that were scheduled to test on Friday include Browns Point, Crescent Heights, Reed and Skyline elementary schools, along with Gray and Meeker middle schools.

But teachers at Giaudrone Middle School also reported testing problems there on Friday.

Schools have until June 6 to complete testing for the Measurements of Student Progress (MSP), which tests students in grades three through eight. Schools that experienced disruptions due to computer issues can reschedule test-taking, but it is up to each school principal to decide, Warmuth said.

This is the last year that Washington students will take the MSP and the High School Proficiency Exam (HSPE). Next spring, students will take the new Smarter Balanced test, developed by a consortium of states to align with the new Common Core standards that have been adopted by Washington and most other states. 

Most of the Smarter Balanced testing is planned to take place online, although school districts will also have an option to continue paper-and-pencil tests for the first three years of Smarter Balanced testing, said Kristen Jaudon, spokeswoman for the state Office of Superintendent of Public instruction. 

About half of school districts statewide had at least some schools field testing the Smarter Balanced test this year. Those include Puyallup, Gig Harbor, Sumner,  Eatonville, Bethel, Franklin-Pierce and Clover Park school districts.

Jaudon said that, so far, there had been few technical issues reported with the field testing.


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