State: Answers were erased on 14,220 STAAR tests


State officials are threatening to reconsider a $280 million contract with its testing vendor after answers to 14,220 state standardized tests were erased because of a computer glitch last week.

State Education Commissioner Mike Morath had strong words for the New Jersey-based Educational Testing Services, the company that administers the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, during a State Board of Education meeting on Wednesday.

Morath said that many of the tests affected by the glitch March 29 were computerized versions taken by special education students. About 2.3 million Texas public school students took the STAAR last week, most of them in the paper format.

He said the testing company will be held financially liable for the issues and, if they’re not fixed by May, the state will reconsider the contract with the company.

“We are very serious that we have an assessment system that is functional. What happened last week was unacceptable,” Morath said.

Last Tuesday, the first day of STAAR testing, the American-Statesman first reported that at least four school districts in Central Texas — Austin, Hays Consolidated, Hutto and Harper — said that students taking the writing STAAR had received an error message after submitting completed tests online. After logging back in, the students’ multiple choice answers — and in at least in one case, the essay — had disappeared. Students who logged out temporarily for breaks also were affected.

The state later confirmed that districts statewide were experiencing similar problems and that students wouldn’t be penalized for the glitch, leaving it up to the school district to decide whether to retest affected students. Some students were retested, Morath said Wednesday.

Morath also said that, the week before STAAR testing started, some answer booklets were sent to wrong addresses, missing deadlines set by the Texas Education Agency.

This year is the first time that Educational Testing Services, which also produces the Graduate Record Examinations, or GRE, is administering the statewide assessment. The company won the $280 million contract last May after the state dumped Pearson Education, who had been the state’s sole testing vendor for three decades.

Last Tuesday wasn’t the first time that test takers have faced computer glitches. In 2012, Texas students retaking the STAAR had trouble launching the testing system or, if a student took a break, had difficulty logging back on.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Hutto Economic Development Corporation under criminal investigation
Hutto Economic Development Corporation under criminal investigation

The Hutto city manager announced Thursday night at a City Council meeting that the former Hutto Economic Development Corporation is under criminal investigation. It was immediately unclear what the subject of the investigation is, but the revelation came several minutes after Mayor Pro Tem Tom Hines had said that the EDC — against the wishes...
AUSTIN POLICE CONTRACT: Deadline passing as civic groups wade in
AUSTIN POLICE CONTRACT: Deadline passing as civic groups wade in

Months-long negotiations between Austin police and city officials reached a heightened pitch Thursday as both sides brushed against a deadline to develop a proposed employment agreement. The stakes were being raised on multiple fronts: Community and political groups, including some leaders of the Travis County Democratic party, were opposing any possible...
‘Horns up’ in the Children’s Hospital
‘Horns up’ in the Children’s Hospital

University of Texas football players Tim Yoder, Michael Wilson and Kendall Moore get their “horns up” with future Longhorn Dylan Martinez at St. David’s Children’s Hospital. The football players visited sick children and their families to lift their spirits.
Poll: 49% of Texans disapprove of Trump, but GOP support strong
Poll: 49% of Texans disapprove of Trump, but GOP support strong

Nearly half of Texans disapprove of Donald Trump’s performance as president, but Republicans overwhelmingly support him, according to a University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll released Thursday. Among Republicans, 79 percent said they approved of Trump’s performance, while 15 percent disapprove. The rest of the GOP respondents said they...
DPS: Driver, 18, dies in crash after police chase near Granite Shoals

BURNET COUNTY Police chase ends with fatal crash A police chase ended with the death of an 18-year-old driver near Granite Shoals early Thursday, authorities said. According to a Texas Department of Public Safety statement, a preliminary investigation found that Cruz Grimaldo Suarez was fleeing from police around 3:30 a.m. in Burnet County. He was...
More Stories