Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Keith Ballard says testing debacle disastrous after server crash

TULSA - Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Keith Ballard calls the online testing situation that forced the suspension of statewide school testing is "disastrous."

Many Green Country schools say they have experienced complications with online assessments with the state's testing company CTB/Mcgraw Hill. Those complications forced testing to come to a halt Monday and Tuesday in many Oklahoma schools.

RELATED LINK - Server crash ends testing in Oklahoma's Schools (http://bit.ly/130EexQ)

Union Public Schools says the testing system appears to be functioning correctly following the issues Monday and Tuesday.

In a press release from TPS Wednesday, the district said it has been forced to invalidate 460 tests with Dr. Ballard, calling the debacle "nothing short of disastrous."

According to Tulsa Public Schools, these are the impacts from the server crash:

-- On Monday and Tuesday, a total of 44 testing sessions were canceled due to CTB server problems.

-- 170 tests were invalidated on Monday, and 290 on Tuesday due to server crashes. All of these students will have to be rescheduled.

-- At Booker T. Washington High School alone, 160 students will have to be rescheduled to test. 

-- At East Central High School, 90 students will have to be rescheduled due to canceled testing sessions.

-- At McLain High School, students took over five hours to complete their testing session due to technical difficulties with CTB servers.

-- Schools are required to test 95% of students. Schools that test less than 95% have their school report card grade reduced by one letter grade.  With the number of invalidations that have been required and sessions that have been canceled, schools are concerned they will not be able to test 95% of students within the state testing window. 

-- The interruptions and changes to the online testing environment due to CTB server problems may have a significant effect on the validity of student test scores.

-- Some students at the high school level are dependent on the results of these tests to meet graduation requirements in order to receive their diploma in the coming weeks.

Parents are also not happy with the malfunctions.

"With the servers going down and the kids having to restart this test like three times I don't think the results can be valid," TPS parent Julie Brett said.

CTB/McGraw-Hill issued this statement dated May 1, 2013:

"Earlier this week, students taking online assessments in Indiana and Oklahoma as well as other test takers who use our online systems for summative assessments experienced system interruptions, which have led some local districts to temporarily suspend testing. We regret the impact on these schools and students and have made changes to correct the situation and online testing is resuming today.

While students affected by the interruption will be able to resume testing where they left off and no data has been lost, we understand just how disruptive and frustrating these interruptions have been. The interruptions are not acceptable to students and educators or to CTB/McGraw-Hill. We have worked with the schools in these states for many years and value our relationships with them. We sincerely regret the problems we have caused.

We are doing everything possible to ensure that testing will continue successfully through the remainder of the assessment windows."

The State Board of Education says nearly 4,000 students were affected by the outages.

State officials say they will try to offer paper tests to eliminate issues with a server failure. The Oklahoma State Department of Education announced Wednesday they are extending the testing period. Districts will have two more days to complete testing. But some parents think that's not enough time.

"I don't care if it's five or ten days. They need to figure out and get a plan together allowing them to take it and have plenty of time to refresh all the material they're going to take," TPS parent James Latta said.

RELATED STORY - Our station in Indianapolis is also reporting their statewide testing was suspended Monday and Tuesday. (http://bit.ly/14WmcA2 )

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