State cancels ELA computer tests for Wednesday as software problems persist

Local News

Some students set to take state English language arts exams on Tuesday were unable to get started due to a problem with the software used to administer the tests.

In an email Tuesday morning, Education Department Spokesperson Emily DeSantis told News 8 that they were working to fix the issue with Questar — the company that runs the testing software — and hoped to push tests back to Wednesday.

Hours later, DeSantis said no computer-based testing would be performed on Wednesday either.

She says, “[The New York State Education Department] expects seamless administration of its [computer-based testing] program and we will use this time to work with Questar to ensure the system will operate smoothly when CBT resumes. In addition, NYSED will work with schools to provide guidance on how to resolve outstanding issues with today’s CBT administration. We thank our districts and schools for their incredible support and patience as we work through these issues.”

DeSantis adds, “Questar reports more than 84,000 testing sessions were submitted today. Questar has dispatched additional staff around the state to provide technical assistance to schools.”

Last April, students also faced problems with Questar’s software — with some of the issues being the result of a denial of service attack.

In an email to News 8, Questar says, “Questar Assessment Inc. is aware of intermittent delays with online testing at some schools in New York Tuesday. Questar is proactively working with the NYSED and individual school districts to keep them informed. Despite some delays, approximately 84,000 test sessions were successfully submitted Tuesday morning.”

In a statement on Tuesday, the New York State teachers union criticized the failures:

Students across the state are barely 24 hours into this year’s computer-based testing period for grades 3-8, and we already are receiving reports of widespread computer failures similar to the issues that created havoc in 2018. Despite claims to the contrary, clearly the state has not taken the actions needed to ensure that technological issues will not unduly burden students taking these already flawed state exams on computers. The state must immediately halt computer-based testing to ensure that our children will not be penalized because of the mistakes adults have made in rolling out this faulty system.

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