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Students won’t have to retake, finish STAAR tests affected by glitch

Students whose answers to a state standardized test were wiped out because of a computer glitch on Tuesday will not have to retake the exam again and will not be penalized for not completing it.

In a letter to all Texas school districts, the Texas Education Agency said students who were unable to complete the online version of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, because of the technology issues will not be required to complete the exam.

“The agency will ensure that there are no adverse consequences for students who do not resume testing and for districts that elect not to have students resume testing,” the letter stated.

It is still unclear how many students statewide were affected by the computer glitch, but state officials said the majority of students take the paper test, instead of the computer one. However, many special education students take the STAAR-accommodated exam, which is computerized, and may have been affected. About 54,000 special education students took the computerized version of the exam last year.

Such issues have occurred in previous years. In 2012, thousands of Texas high school students were either delayed or derailed in retaking an electronic version of the state-mandated test.

The agency was working with testing vendor Educational Testing Services to determine the extent of the problem. It is the first time the New Jersey-based company is administering the exam after Pearson Education lost the bulk of the standardized testing contract in Texas.

At least four Central Texas school districts, including the Austin district, were affected by the problem. In Hutto, the answers were recovered for at least one student whose test was affected by the glitch, the district reported.

“Such issues undermine the hard work of our teachers and students,” Education Commissioner Mike Morath said in a statement on Tuesday. “Kids in the classroom should never suffer from mistakes made by adults.

STAAR testing began Tuesday throughout the state, and included writing tests for fourth and seventh grade students, as well as the English I end-of-course exam.

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