Testing Firm Earns Fine For Glitches During The Online STAAR Test

For the second time, the online version of the test given to fifth and eighth-graders experienced glitches that forced TEA to cancel the exam for students who took it online.

By Jill AmentMay 25, 2018 7:00 am

Because of computer glitches that occurred as Texas students took the online version of the STAAR test, the company that administers the test is facing a fine, and students who took the test online won’t have to pass it this year.

Julie Chang, an education reporter for the Austin American-Statesman, says many students take the STAAR test using pencil and paper, and are not affected by the glitch. But others take the online version. In April, a computer glitch stopped the test for 20 minutes. Last week, test takers experienced slowed connections to the server.

Chang says special education students often take the STAAR test online because that version is accessible to those who are unable to use paper and pencil. The TEA says up to 27 percent of those affected by computer glitches were special education students.

This isn’t the first time there has been a STAAR test glitch.

“In 2016, Educational Testing Service, the company that administers the STAAR test, was fined $21 million by the state of Texas as a result of a widespread computer glitch,” Chang says. “I think the Texas Education Agency is ready to fine them again.”

TEA has announced a $100,000 fine for Education Testing Service, based on the new incident.

ETS’ contract with the state expires in 2019, and the testing contract will be rebid this summer.

“It will be interesting to see who the state goes with…” Chang says “but the agency is going to be focusing on a company that can deliver an online test that is devoid of such glitches.”

Written by Shelly Brisbin.