TEA levies $100K fine against ETS for STAAR glitches

Texas
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AUSTIN (KXAN) — After a couple of glitches during the STAAR test this spring, the Texas Education Agency says it’s waiving the state test passing requirements for fifth and eighth-grade students who were impacted by the problems with the online test. 

The agency is also asking ETS (the company responsible for administering STAAR) to pay $100,000 for the testing problems that surfaced in April and May. 

The TEA says during the STAAR test in April, 41,702 students were taking the test online when “connectivity slowdown” disrupted online testing for approximately 20 minutes. However, some school districts reported issues for up to three hours due to login/logout problems. 

In May, 29,307 students taking a test were locked out for nearly two hours due to what appears to be the same problem. Approximately 5,000 of those were students who needed special education accommodations. 

“As we continue to build upon our online platform to provide greater support to students, we cannot allow technical disruptions during testing,” said TEA Commissioner Mike Morath. “We are committed to providing a positive assessment experience for our districts and students.”

Due to the technical issues, TEA is also implementing the following:

  • Test results for students impacted by online testing issues will be taken into account in this year’s campus and district accountability ratings
  • State passing requirements for 5th and 8th grade students impacted by online testing issues will be waived

The agency is also allowing school districts to keep the results if they positively benefit a district or campus rating, 

Moving Forward

The state currently has two contracts with two different companies for its statewide tests. ETS provides STAAR and program integration while Pearson provides STAAR Alternate 2 and Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System. 

The agency plans to rebid both contracts. However, in the rebidding process, the agency wants to “prioritize and focus on the online testing experience and functionality of the assessment.” 

Companies that get the new contract will “require greater enhancements and safeguards.” 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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