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You Must Be Kidding Me

April 29, 2013

On the same day that school districts suffered through problem after problem with online testing, the SDE issued a memo on procedures for data verification for A-F Report Cards.


First, a memo sent today from CTB-McGraw Hill – the company that was supposed to be an upgrade over Pearson:

Dear District & Building Test Coordinators,

CTB has observed and received several reports this morning regarding disruptions experienced by students while taking the Oklahoma OCCT online test. Our immediate efforts to resolve the situation this morning were not successful, and our technology engineers are working diligently to isolate the source of the disruption. We will continue to investigate and make the necessary adjustments to return to a normal system status as soon as possible. Where possible, students scheduled to test through the remainder of the day should be rescheduled. We expect all systems to be ready for use without interruption by Tuesday, 4/30/2013.

  • If students are currently active in a test session and are able to continue, please have them complete the test session.
  • If a student’s test is in an interrupted status, please make arrangements to resume testing beginning tomorrow, 4/30/13.

We apologize for this inconvenience, and will continue our best efforts to resolve this interruption as quickly as possible. We will provide updated communication once the situation is resolved, and will post regular updates on the CTB Oklahoma Web Portal at www.ctb.com/ok.

Please distribute this message to all appropriate personnel within your district. Should you have any additional questions or concerns regarding this message, please contact us using the information listed below.

Thank you,

CTB’s Oklahoma Program Team

Basically, if you had kids testing online anywhere in Oklahoma today, we’re sorry. Try again tomorrow. It seems our servers can’t handle the load. We must have underestimated how many students you have in your fair state. We promise this won’t affect your results.

There really are few words appropriate to the profession that capture how this makes me feel. We live in a hyper-reform education climate in which everybody is accountable. Test results impact everything from students getting their driver’s license to high school graduation. Soon, they will also impact third grade promotion and the evaluation of teachers and principals. Unfortunately, it’s becoming harder to take the questionable results of this flawed process seriously.

All is well, however. This will not slow the SDE down in its quest to define schools with letter grades. Heck, the absence of approved rules won’t even slow them down. In probably the worst timing of the school year, the following message went out to superintendents this evening:

Dear Superintendents, district testing coordinators and technology directors,

Please find information below regarding data that will need to be certified this spring for the 2013 A-F Report Card.

In a separate email, you will receive an updated overview of the 2013 A-F requirements and timeline, including critical deadlines.

This email includes information about four new applications that will enable you to complete the A-F data certification process in the Student Information System (“Wave”). Each of these reports will have a 30-day certification window. Please note this is your only opportunity to certify these data.

Yes, your deadlines are critical. Ours – and those of our vendors – not so much.

And yes, less than an hour later, there was indeed a separate email:

The United States Department of Education has recently released a new set of guidelines for school report cards. In addition to the state requirements outlined by Oklahoma law, this year’s report card will contain additional student performance information.

Please note that these new requirements will not affect the calculation of school or district grades in any way.This is supplemental information that will be reported in addition to the information that is already used for calculation of report card grades. Furthermore, you do not have to provide any additional information to OSDE for these sections. All the data needed for these sections have either already been collected or will be provided by a third party (e.g., the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education).

On the following pages are tables detailing all of the information you can expect to find on this year’s report card. The first tables list the information that will be used to calculate A-F report card grades.* The first column identifies the sections. The second and third columns identify each component of the Report Card and the corresponding data that will make up that component, respectively. The remaining columns identify the source of the information, what action will be required of the school or district, and the timeframe for performing that action (if available). Most of these actions will require the use of several new Wave applications. Details for these applications (including training information) will be provided in a separate communication.

The last table details information that will be provided as an addendum to each report card. Again, the first column indicates each new section that will be included in the report card. The second column provides a brief description of the information that section.

Additional information will be provided through listserv and the OSDE website (http://www.ok.gov/sde) as it becomes available.

Any legislative changes – and emergency rules that result from those changes – may impact these requirements and timeline. The OSDE will post an updated version on the department website as new information becomes available.

* Geography, Social Studies, and History will not be included in the grade calculation for grades 3-8 this year due to field testing of these exams. They will be reinserted into the calculation for the 2013-2014 school year.


We don’t know what the rules are, but since we entered into an agreement with the USDE through our NCLB waiver, we’re really beholden to them. Be prepared to verify all of the data included on the attached seven-page flyer…in case we need it.

Yes, it really is a seven-page flyer.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough.

  1. Susan Holtz
    April 29, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    In Indiana we had the same testing fiasco, and our tests are also provided courtesy of CTB. We received the EXACT same email, explaining that all would be better by tomorrow. Lucky for them that they had that email ready- all they needed to do was change the name of the state!! Wonder how many others they sent out?


    • JSW
      April 29, 2013 at 7:03 pm

      Was today the first day of testing in Indiana? We heard rumors that the additional load from Indiana overwhelmed the CTB capacity.


      • CAL
        April 29, 2013 at 7:40 pm

        Yes, today was the first day of the testing window in Indiana.


    • April 29, 2013 at 7:41 pm

      So that’s two states. Very reassuring. Shareholders over kids, right?


  2. Bev
    April 29, 2013 at 7:18 pm

    How disconcerting! Colorado “upgraded” from CTB McGraw Hill to Pearson! Some pilot tests are occurring this spring but not even close to the total number of students.


  3. Sci Teacher
    April 29, 2013 at 11:32 pm

    Unfortunately, many schools did not receive that email until late in the morning testing session. It took some students hours to finish due to the wait between server crashes. I also worry about the number of students who might have tests invalidated because of this problem.


    • Teacher's Husband
      April 30, 2013 at 7:42 am

      That is exactly what happened at our district. The kids were exhausted by the end as the stress of the problems along with the tests themselves. It was ridiculous. The whole thing has become ridiculous.


  4. April 30, 2013 at 9:16 am

    And people wonder why I don’t miss teaching.


  1. April 30, 2013 at 7:06 am
  2. July 28, 2013 at 4:13 pm
  3. April 22, 2014 at 8:00 am
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