Oklahoma schools see testing problems similar to ISTEP snags from CTB/McGraw-Hill

Same vendor had issues in Ind. 2013 testing

TULSA, Okla. - The same testing vendor Indiana blamed for issues with last year's ISTEPs is having similar issues in Oklahoma this week.

Computer problems halted the Oklahoma's end-of-instruction exams Monday.

The Oklahoma State Department of Education estimates the computer issues disrupted testing for approximately 8,100 students statewide. The state school superintendent blames the failure on the test vendor, CTB/McGraw-Hill.

This is not the first time CTB/McGraw-Hill has been responsible for delays in state education testing. Around this time in 2013, problems in the vendor's servers led to multiple days' worth of delays in testing Indiana students.

While the vendor works to get the computer system back online, the timing could not have been worse. Oklahoma schools are in the midst of one of the busiest testing periods of the year. Many students and teachers are now wondering what will happen next since so many of them never got to finish their end-of-year tests due to the computer issues.

Oklahoma State Superintendent Janet Barresi, as a result of Monday's computer issues, suspended online testing for the remainder of the day.

"It is an understatement to say that I am frustrated with McGraw Hill," Barresi said. "It's an understatement to say actually that I am outraged."

Tulsa Public Schools received a memo Monday morning, alerting them to the problems with CTB/McGraw-Hill Testing, according to a district spokesperson.

In nearby Broken Arrow, school officials report the testing system began crashing at 8:38 a.m., just a few minutes after testing in grades six through 12 began.

"This is unacceptable for students and parents in our state, as we have repeatedly voiced concerns over the continued use of CTB/McGraw Hill after the widespread failure from this company last year," said BA Superintendent Dr. Jarod Mendenhall.

"NEVER EVEN GOT TO FINISH"

At Jenks Middle School in south Tulsa, about 150 seventh grade students planned to take the state reading exam Monday on the computer. Many of them never got to finish, though, because of the computer problems. Seventh grader Sanjeev Musuvathy and his classmates prepared for months to take the test, but he said as soon as they all sat down to log on and begin, everything went wrong.

"People were having trouble logging into their computers. I was having some trouble with that, too," he explained. "The actual program wasn't working that well. It would take a long time to actually load up."

Musuvathy said the computer kicked him off the test nine times before he managed to complete it. Many of his classmates, however, were not as lucky. The test booted some of his friends off the test as many as 20 and 30 times, so they never got a chance to finish. Rob Miller, the Jenks Middle School principal, says this is unacceptable.

"I'm very angry that this could happen a second time after all the problems last year," Miller said.

He hopes the state will abandon computer testing and go back to paper and pencil because he said the schools have gotten back quicker results from the traditional format and would not have to worry about these crippling crashes. His concern now, though, is for the students. 

"UNFAIR AND UNETHICAL"

The administrators at his school plan to push the state to throw out the test scores, calling the whole situation "unfair" and "unethical."

"Frankly as of now, I don't have any answers for (the students) because we haven't gotten word from the State Department whether these tests will be invalidated or whether these students will get another run at these tests," said Dr. Michelle Butler, principal of Tulsa Met.

"I can tell you," she added, "that we're going to fight our best to make sure that their students are treated fairly and that they get the scores that they deserve."

RTV6 reporter Derrik Thomas reached out to CTB/McGraw-Hill but the calls were not returned. 

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