Kentucky has become the most recent state to see problems with the company that administers online exams in public schools and officials say the problem is of concern as more states move to online testing.
Since the beginning of this week, 25 Kentucky school districts have experienced slow or dropped connections to the online system, making it impossible to complete the ACT End of Course Exam.
Earlier this week, Indiana, Alabama, Minnesota, Oklahoma all experienced similar problems, raising questions about infrastructure in place as more states contract and administer tests online.
“I think any time we use technology there will be some issues with, will it work, especially when you increase the number of students who are involved in the test,” says Ken Draut, associate commissioner with the Kentucky Department of Education.
The state has halted testing until further notice and Draut says the education department will connect with ACT officials today to discuss when testing might resume.
The ACT is the third company to recently have problems administering tests to a large pool of students. Earlier this week, CTB/McGraw-Hill—which administers tests in Indiana among several other states—experienced similar online issues, along with testing company American Institutes for Research (AIR).
Draut says this is a concern as testing moves online and since the end of course exams count for at least 20 percent of students’ grades. He says it'll be up to local school districts to determine how the tests factor into grading. In Jefferson County Public Schools, which wasn't one of the districts that reported problems, two students in the e-school reported problems, a spokesman for the district says.
But Draut says the state will also have to determine whether the delay in testing is enough for KDE to reconsider how the end of course exam is factored into overall accountability.
“That’s one where we’re going to have to retreat and talk about how does this affect these schools," he says.
Draut says the problems shouldn’t affect the state releasing its accountability results as planned later this year.