Computer problems force some East Texas ISDs to stop STAAR testing


EAST TEAS (KETK) — School districts throughout Texas had to stop STAAR testing on Tuesday when students either were knocked off line during the test or could not access the test.

Writing tests for fourth and seventh graders and English I tests for high school students, were disrupted.

Lufkin was among districts in East Texas that experienced problems.

Lufkin ISD set the following statements to parents of elementary and middle schools students: Earlier today, Texas school districts experienced connectivity issues with the state STAAR Online Testing Platform. As of 10:00 AM this morning, state connectivity issues had not been resolved and students taking the online 4th and 7th grade STAAR writing test were dismissed from testing and returned to instruction. As of now, we plan to administer the STAAR writing test to online testers on Thursday, April 8.

A similar statement was sent to parents of high school students. Students taking the English 1 STAAR online test were dismissed from testing and returned to instruction. As of now, we plan to administer the STAAR English I test to these online testers tomorrow, Wednesday, April 7.

Sheila Adams, LISD’s executive director of communications and public relations, said students were taking the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness test when they were knocked off line.

“We have received notifications letting us know that there were connectivity issues across the state,” Adams said.

Texas Education Agency advised school districts experiencing problems to halt the standardized testing after widespread technical issues occurred Tuesday morning.

“If your students have been able to access the test, they should continue testing. If your students have not been able to access the test, they should be dismissed from testing until the issue has been resolved,” the message from the Texas Education Agency said.

Nacogdoches ISD also had to stop STAAR testing.

NISD posted the following statement on its Facebook page: School districts across Texas experienced connectivity issues today related to the STAAR test administrator, forcing a halt to the testing day and requiring exams to be rescheduled. Nacogdoches ISD has moved STAAR testing originally planned for today to Wednesday, April 7. That includes writing tests for Grades 4 and 7 and the English I end-of-course exam at Nacogdoches High School.

“NISD campuses are communicating their plans for Wednesday to students and parents. All students who were administered online testing today, prior to the connectivity issues, will resume on Wednesday with the same schedule.”

TEA released a statement saying that the problems were “completely unacceptable.”

“We understand the frustration this has caused students, parents, teachers, and administrators,” the statement said.

Educational Testing Service, one of the companies the state contracts to develop and administer the test, is investigating the issue, the TEA said.

According to the news release from the education agency, ETS will no longer administer statewide testing services after this spring. Cambium Assessment, another commercial standardized testing company, will take over those duties starting in the 2021-22 school year.

Online STAAR testing has faced technical issues before. In 2018, software kicked thousands of students out of the test while it was still going and didn’t let them log back on. In 2016, computer problems statewide affected more than 14,000 tests.

The Texas Tribune contributed to this story.

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