March 28, 2014

Kansas education officials extend state testing period amid computer glitches

Persistent computer glitches with state tests have prompted officials to extend this year’s testing period by two weeks.

Persistent computer glitches with state tests have prompted officials to extend this year’s testing period by two weeks.

Schools now have until May 16 to complete state reading, math and science assessments – two weeks longer than originally planned, state officials said.

“While we know there have been delays that have caused some hair-pulling moments … each issue identified is bringing us one step closer to delivering one of the best assessments in the country,” said Brad Neuenswander, deputy education commissioner, in a statement issued to districts and test coordinators Thursday.

“We just ask that you continue to give it your best effort, and continue to communicate with us about technical problems that you are experiencing.”

School districts across the state have been reporting technical problems with the rollout of new state assessment tests, which began earlier this month. Delays have raised concerns that some schools would not complete the tests within the allotted time period, which the state had shortened by two weeks to give developers more time to ready the test system.

Officials have said it’s not a problem if some schools or students don’t complete this year’s tests, which are being viewed as a trial run for a new type of test that reflects Common Core state standards. The State Board of Education decided earlier this month that all public schools in Kansas will remain accredited next year, regardless of how they perform on the tests.

With the two-week extension, this year’s testing period will continue almost to the end of the school year. The last day for Wichita students is May 22.

The University of Kansas’ Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation, which developed the tests, is “continuing to address any issues … with the testing platform,” Neuenswander said in the e-mailed statement.

About 58,000 assessment units were completed Wednesday, he said, compared with 23,000 in the first week of testing.

“We are making steady progress,” he said.

Earlier this week, school officials in Wichita, the state’s largest district, postponed reading and math tests “until further notice,” citing continued glitches and delays. School spokeswoman Susan Arensman said she was not sure when the bulk of testing would resume.

Neuenswander said state officials are hoping the extension will “help alleviate some of the pressure schools are feeling to get their students tested.”

“We completely understand the anxiety that comes along with piloting a new testing platform,” he said in the e-mailed statement. “Keep up the great work, but most importantly, take care of your staff and students during this process.”

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