Are You Testing?
Maybe it would help to sing the above title in rounds in the style of Frere Jacques. If instead of a minor blog, we were a 24 hour news network, we’d be in day three of block letter coverage of CHALK BLOCK 2013, replete with scary intro music.
Instead, we need to be more thoughtful about this. Today, schools saw fewer disruptions of online testing around Oklahoma, but students, parents, teachers, and administrators are still dealing with a lot of uncertainty. I don’t know how the SDE plans to inform the public of what will become of examen interruptus, but late this afternoon, they sent the following email to districts:
Online State Testing Update
OKLAHOMA CITY (May 1, 2013) – The State Department of Education informed district testing coordinators and superintendents on Wednesday morning to begin online testing again after receiving word that the CTB/McGraw-Hill system was operational after two days of disruption due to out-of-state server problems.
After a conference call with the president of the testing company Wednesday morning, State Superintendent Janet Barresi commented, “As I’ve said before, I am extremely frustrated by this situation and am focused on the students being able to complete their assessments in an optimal environment. I will explore all the state’s options in the contract to ensure the students, districts and state’s needs are fully met. We must have a smooth, stress-free assessment atmosphere so students can perform at their peak ability, and parents and educators can have confidence in the assessment process.”
State Department of Education staff worked continuously with district staff and the testing company throughout the two days of disruption. They worked overnight Tuesday to address some of the issues, making the following actions available to students and districts:
Dr. Maridyth McBee, Assistant State Superintendent of Accountability and Assessment, said students making a proficient score based on an incomplete test would not negatively impact a student’s graduation or a school’s A-F Report Card.
“We do know the seriousness of this disruption for educators and students alike,” McBee said. “Please know that we are doing all we can to respond.”
The testing contract was awarded in the normal bidding process, through the State Department of Central Services.
The way that message reads to me, students will not gain any relief from this disruption. If a test has enough correct answers, in spite of being incomplete, the student will pass, and not have to retest. Otherwise, no deal. And if you need this test to graduate, best of luck to you.
Also curious to me is why the last sentence was included. It has nothing to do with the rest of the message. Yes, the SDE has had a lot of questions about the bidding process. Remember – first the contract was awarded to CTB, then there were “administrative challenges,” and the contract was revoked. Then it was again awarded to CTB. This delayed the administration of the writing test – usually given in February – to April.
Not addressed is how this will affect the “growth” component of the A-F Report Cards – if we even have them this year. Can anybody with a straight face say we’re measuring average student growth when so many students won’t even have finished the tests? Or what about the Focus and Priority Schools? I know we have to meet the terms of our NCLB waiver, but will we use this sorry test cycle and its polluted data to determine the fate of children and schools?
The SDE did send out a second, clarifying email this afternoon, giving schools additional guidance on communicating with parents and making plans with student scores:
|District Test Coordinators,I want to clarify a statement issued earlier today regarding the option for students to use a test score from an incomplete test.
For students who were disrupted during testing on Monday or Tuesday, we are offering options. If the student answered enough questions correctly to qualify for a proficient or advanced score, that student may be excused from the retesting requirement if agreed upon by the student and the district. Some students may want to obtain a complete score based on the entire test. These students will be allowed to retest if they desire. All students who did not obtain a proficient or higher score, must retest as is the normal practice. If the student needs to retest, another form of the test will be provided during this testing window once the student’s original test is invalidated.
Additionally, if students did complete the test, but endured multiple interruptions, they may retest if they choose.
As another option, districts who desire, may order paper tests for students who have not yet completed their online testing. For students whose tests need to be invalidated, districts my request paper or online via the Testing Status Application located on the state single sign-on. For students who have not started an online test, paper tests can be ordered through CTB’s Additional Orders link. If students are scheduled in an online session and paper tests are ordered, the district will need to mark the student as “Other” in the Not Tested Codes.
CTB believes that the files of students’ scores based on incomplete tests will be available tomorrow. The file will be posted on the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s single sign-on site.
Please share this information with concerned parents and students to reassure them of the solutions we are seeking to address the online technical problems.
Maridyth McBee, PhD
Assistant State Superintendent
Accountability and Assessment
Do you feel reassured?
No I don’t. No I don’t.