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Districts Will Decide If Students Must Retake STAAR Exams Disrupted By Computer Glitches

Jason Wiseman
Texas Tribune

UPDATE: The Texas Education Agency says Commissioner Mike Morath is allowing school districts to decide whether students affected this week by glitches with the online STAAR test must retake the exam.  In many cases student answers disappeared from computer screens or were not recorded when students signed off.  

The Texas Association of School Administrators, TASA, has asked that scores from these tests be withheld from district accountability scores.  TEA Spokesperson DeEtta Culbertson says that issue is still being discussed.  Following is an excerpt of TPR’s conversation with Culbertson. 


The state’s top education official is apologizing for problems with the technology being used to administer standardized tests across the state this week. 

Michael Morath has been head of the Texas Education Agency for less than three months, and already, he’s got a critical issue on his hands. Some students across the state who were doing the standardized STAAR test online would see their answers disappear. (Austin ISD was among the districts experiencing problems.) 

The TEA says it happened when students would log out back into their test after logging out, but there were other problems as well. 

This is the first time the tests are being administered by the New Jersey-based Educational Testing Service, which last year took over most of the state’s multimillion dollar testing contract from Pearson.

Commissioner Morath says the technical problems are unacceptable. He says he cannot accept the transition to a new vendor as an excuse, because Educational Testing Service is has experience administering large-scale assessments. 

Morath says TEA shares responsibility and the agency did not live up to its commitment. He says the TEA will work with school districts and charter schools to fix the problem. STAAR testing resumes today and continues through Friday. 

Shelley Kofler is Texas Public Radio’s news director. She joined the San Antonio station in December 2014 and leads a growing staff that produces two weekly programs; a daily talk show, news features, reports and online content. Prior to TPR, Shelley served as the managing editor and news director at KERA in Dallas-Fort Worth, and the Austin bureau chief and legislative reporter for North Texas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV.
Nathan Bernier a KUT reporter and the local host during All Things Considered and Marketplace. He grew up in the small mountain town of Nelson, BC, Canada, and worked at commercial news radio stations in Ottawa, Montreal and Boston before starting at KUT in 2008.