First day of STAAR testing canceled for thousands of students due to experiencing technical issues

On the first day of the STAAR test for fourth and seventh graders in Texas, the online testing platform experience connectivity issues and caused the students to stop testing for the day.

This was the first of five days that students were eligible to take one of these tests online.

The three STAAR tests affected were Grade 4 writing, Grade 7 writing and English I. Online testing will resume on Wednesday.

Officials with the Texas Education Agency sent a statement saying in part, “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.”

The following was sent from the district to the parents of fourth and seventh grade students at Lubbock-Cooper ISD:

Today, Tuesday, April 6, the STAAR Writing Exam was to be administered to Lubbock-Cooper fourth and seventh grade students along with fourth and seventh grade students across the state. This year, the entire test is to be administered online via student iPads.

The ETS app, the platform through which the test is administered, is experiencing technical difficulties and is spontaneously removing students from the exam or not allowing access at all. This is a statewide issue, and is not controlled by the district.

The Texas Education Agency has canceled testing for the day while ETS works to resolve issues. The rescheduled date has not yet been determined, but we will keep you updated as this situation evolves.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

According to an article in the Texas Tribune, “While the test is required this year, there is no penalty for fifth and eighth graders who don’t show up or who fail the STAAR test this year. Texas officials have said the test would not affect students’ ability to move up to the next grade. But high school students must pass five subject-specific courses by the time they graduate, a requirement that will not be waived this year.”

The Amarillo Independent School District issued a statement on the issues with STAAR testing:

“Yes, like many other school districts across the state of Texas, some AISD students at some campuses experienced issues with the STAAR test today. Some of our campuses chose to have students take the STAAR writing test online, which is an option the state made available this year. For those students who were not able to log in and test without issue by mid-morning, we made the decision to cancel testing for the day for those students only. They will try to test again tomorrow, assuming the TEA and its test vendor are able to resolve the issue.  This only impacts those students taking the 4th or 7th grade STAAR writing test ONLINE who experienced issues today.”

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