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Midland, Ector County ISD impacted by STAAR test issues

Both districts say the issues primarily are impacting older students at this time.

MIDLAND, Texas — School districts in Texas have been reporting issues with the online STAAR tests Tuesday.

According to the TEA, the main three tests impacted were the Grade 4 writing, Grade 7 writing and English I.

Issues students were encountering included slow response times, the inability to log in to the test or not being allowed to proceed with answering questions.

Many districts were told to stop testing for the day while issues were being resolved.

Midland ISD reported that they were among the districts experiencing issues, though it was mostly the older students who were impacted. They did not have an estimated number of students impacted at this time.

Superintendent Angelica Ramsey issued the following statement:

Like many other districts across the state, Midland ISD was affected by the interruptions to STAAR testing today. The issue primarily impacted our High School students, with a smaller number of Junior High and Elementary students also affected. Students who completed the test via paper and pencil were able to complete testing. Those who tested online and got locked out of the system will have an opportunity to complete their assessments at a later date, pending guidance from TEA.

I share the frustration felt by our parents and teachers, but am cheered by the knowledge that the work our educators and students undertake 179 days of the year is far more important than the 1 day they take an exam.

For Ector County ISD, it was only the English I tests at certain high schoolsthat were reportedly impacted. An ECISD spokesperson says the other tests were being taken entirely on paper for the district.

ECISD also did not provide an estimated number of students impacted at this time, but did provide the following statement:

School districts across Texas began STAAR testing today. Unfortunately, the vendor that provides the online testing platform experienced technical difficulties that impacted students throughout the state. In ECISD, it disrupted the English I End of Course exam which was being taken online. Students from OCTECHS and Odessa Collegiate Academy were able to complete the exam during the course of the day, however students at all other high schools did not. 

These tests are required by federal and state regulations, and we will be rescheduling the English I EOC for all of our students who were unable to do it today. Our campus leaders will send this information to staff members, students and families as soon as it available. We want to thank our teachers and students for their patience in dealing with this issue. 

The TEA issued the following statement concerning the STAAR situation.

“Earlier today, districts experienced connectivity issues with the STAAR Online Testing Platform (SOTP). We posted updates to the STAAR Assessment Management System dashboard every 10 minutes to keep districts apprised of the progress in resolving the issue.

“The three STAAR tests affected were Grade 4 writing, Grade 7 writing, and English I. This was the first of five days that students were eligible to take one of these three tests online.

“At 10:17 a.m. CDT today, districts were advised if they were having issues that they should stop online testing for the day while the vendor works to resolve these problems. Online testing will resume tomorrow.

“We are still analyzing data to determine the number of students affected. Students could have experienced four different scenarios with online testing today:

1) the student could have successfully submitted the test without disruption;
2) the student could have successfully submitted answers but may have noticed unusually slow response times;
3) the student could have been prevented from logging in to begin with; or
4) the student could have begun to answer questions, but at some point was prevented from continuing, and in this instance, answers were saved every thirty seconds so that these students will be able to pick up where they left off.

“We understand the frustration this has caused students, parents, teachers, and administrators. What happened today is completely unacceptable. ETS, the testing vendor, experienced problems with their database system, which are in the process of being corrected. The 2021 online administration of STAAR will be ETS’s last for the State of Texas. Beginning next school year, Cambium Assessment will be taking over these critical testing functions to ensure that users have a seamless online testing experience moving forward.

“All involved in public education in Texas should expect better than what they have experienced today; we are working to ensure that our students do not experience future testing issues.”

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