DALLAS — This story will be updated throughout the day as new information is released.
School districts across Texas reported outages Tuesday morning with the online STAAR testing platform.
In a written statement, the Texas Education Agency said the three STAAR tests affected were Grade 4 writing, Grade 7 writing, and English I. Some districts sent an email to parents around 10 a.m., informing them about the problems with the online system.
Tuesday is the first of five days that students were eligible to take one of these three tests online, the agency said. The TEA told districts if they were having issues that they should stop online testing for the day. Online testing will resume Wednesday, officials said.
“We understand the frustration this has caused students, parents, teachers, and administrators. What happened today is completely unacceptable," the TEA said. "ETS, the testing vendor, experienced problems with their database system, which are in the process of being corrected."
This school year, the STAAR tests are being administered on paper, online, or a combination of the two. Students who are taking the test on paper are not impacted by the issue, the email stated.
The TEA doesn't allow students to switch testing methods once they have begun the test. The agency said it's investigating how many students were affected by Tuesday's issues.
The agency said some of the issues students may have experienced include the following:
- Some students were able to submit answers successfully but dealt with unusually slow response times.
- Students could have been prevented from logging in at the beginning of the test.
- Students could have begun to answer questions, but at some point, were prevented from continuing. In this instance, answers were saved every thirty seconds so that these students will be able to pick up where they left off.
"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," the TEA said.
Grapevine-Colleyville ISD posted on social media that students who had problems finishing their essays using the speech-to-text feature can continue to respond to multiple-choice items.
The state standardized tests are taken in grades three through 12. Earlier this year, the Texas Education Agency said all districts would be required to allow in-person learning for all students who want it, with few exceptions.
Last year, Gov. Greg Abbott waived the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, testing requirements for the 2019-2020 school year.
A few years ago, in the spring of 2018, technology glitches with the STAAR online testing system caused connectivity issues, intermittent service errors, test freezing, and slowness upon opening test sessions.
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