A technical hiccup during administration of the annual STAAR test on Tuesday forced Texas Education Agency, or TEA, officials to pull the plug on online test-taking. It resumes Wednesday.
Despite the pandemic, Texas officials mandated that students take the standardized test in person this year at monitored test sites, though millions of students are still in remote learning mode. The technical fail comes as Texas plans to move to online-only testing, starting in the 2022-23 academic year. STAAR stands for State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, and the test is taken annually by Texas public schools students in grade 3-12.
Yolanda Rodriguez is the interim chief academic officer for the Houston Independent School District. She told Texas Standard that some students were kicked out of the online testing system Tuesday, while others experienced slowdowns.
Rodriguez says TEA kept in contact with HISD staff yesterday, and indicated that the testing vendor, Educational Testing Service, experienced problems with its database.
“Eventually, in the afternoon, [they] did advise that students could stop testing, and that they could return to their testing session as soon as today,” Rodriguez said.
Students would normally not be able to return to a test in progress, but because of the glitch on Tuesday, Rodriguez the TEA advised her district that students would be able to resume on Wednesday.
“They can even go back throughout the whole test,” she said.
Though Rodriguez says she doesn’t know why the testing system failed this week, she says the increased volume of online test-takers this year could have something to do with it.
“Because of the pandemic, because of the demand for virtual instruction, teaching and learning, I would imagine that we have an increase in students taking the STAAR test online this year,” Rodriguez said.
Texas will be moving to a new STAAR test vendor in 2022-2023, when the test will be fully online. The new vendor was chosen by TEA some time ago, and isn’t related to Tuesday’s problems with the STAAR.