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May We Test Today?

May 1, 2013

Yesterday afternoon, I updated readers on the second day of widespread testing failures across the state. Towards the end, I wrote the following words, which I certainly could have stated differently:

Look, I realize the SDE hasn’t screwed up testing. This is entirely on CTB. The fact that another state is experiencing the same thing is proof of that. (By the way, I heard from readers in Colorado last night that they are now worried, having also selected CTB to replace Pearson.)

This prompted the following Facebook message from a reader:

Dear Ok Education Truths:

Your last post seems to imply that the SDE isn’t responsible for this problem. I’d like to challenge this assumption with the following things the SDE/ State Legislature could have done to avoid this:

1. SDE should be more careful about their contract enforcement provisions in the contract. There should be performance bonds in the contract to cover when the contractor doesn’t perform under the contract.

2. The SDE shouldn’t be over-extending testing when we don’t have a reliable process. They signed this testing company in December. Which is way too late.

3. The SDE is forcing all of the ALEC wish list down our throats and can’t focus on getting the testing right.

4. The SDE made this “high stakes” and so now the glitches have different consequences.

On top of that, I had the following comment last night on the post:

Great post! I would disagree gently on the assertion that the SDE bears no responsibility for this fiasco. Remember how the SDE’s incompetence led to the rebidding of our state testing contract. I realize that this disruption is with the EOI’s and not the OCCT’s, but I wonder how all of the confusion and miscommunication affected CTB’s ability to get ready in a few short months. They seem to have been playing catchup since the beginning. Anyone out there confident of the testing company’s ability to handle the significant increase in online testing in two years? PARCC will require that every student in grades 3-11 take nine or more online tests in the last quarter of the school year. These tests are expected to be more “interactive” and will certainly require more graphics and greater memory storage. This will involve over 20 million students in dozens of states all taking multiple tests at the same time. If the servers cannot handle the current demands, how will they handle the greatly increased demands in less than 24 months?

All I can say is that you’re both completely right. I’m not trying to remove culpability from the SDE. While they’re not responsible for the server crash per se, it is a combination of test-obsession and bidding malfeasance that brought us to this point. Any vendor can say they can handle the load of all this testing. Schools have been running systems tests for months in preparation for the testing window. That’s a lot of wasted time.

I’m livid over this debacle. And my anger is directed in many directions.

Good luck today. And whatever you do, I hope it goes well.

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  1. KEM
    May 1, 2013 at 7:08 am

    You bring up the increased demands for computers, which reminds me that no one in Oklahoma City seems to factor purchasing and maintaining those computers into the cost of testing. It’s an enormous cost, and it’s going to grow. At the same time as they are cutting school funding, they are demanding that schools come up with increased numbers and quality of computers — just for testing.

    Like

    • May 1, 2013 at 7:17 am

      That is absolutely right. Thanks for pointing this out.

      Like

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