STAAR testing for students in grades 3-12 has been suspended for the first day due to unforeseen technical difficulties.

According to a press release from the Texas Education Agency (TEA), officials advised districts using online tests to suspend the first day of STAAR testing due to outages and other technical issues being reported across the state.

“We understand the frustration this has caused students, parents, teachers, and administrators. What happened today is completely unacceptable. ETS, the testing vendor, experienced problems with their database system, which are in the process of being corrected. 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."

STAAR testing this year was administered by paper, online, or a combination of the two. Unfortunately, once a student has begun online testing they can not switch to paper. At this time, recommendations for a make-up day of testing have not been issued by the TEA, but testing is set to continue tomorrow.

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Earlier this year, the TEA mandated that all Texas students in grades 3-12 take the STAAR test in-person at an approved testing site. Testing locations included on-campus and other facilities like hotels, performing art centers, recreational centers, and other learning centers in order to accommodate social distancing.

Students in grades 3-8 are not required to pass the test to move on to the next grade, but high school students must take and pass STAAR tests to to meet assessment graduation requirements.

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.

Not a good start considering the Texas Legislature has required the TEA to investigate and develop a transition plan to administer all STAAR tests electronically by the 2022–2023 school year.  The Texas Legislature believes that a fully electronic administration will level the playing field for students who need accommodations, expedite test results, reduce cost, and promote future innovations in assessments.

But evidently there are some kinks to work out.

“All involved in public education in Texas should expect better than what they have experienced today; we are working to ensure that our students do not experience future testing issues.”

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