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Computer glitch impacts some NYS students taking the ELA exams online

Some students in the Rochester area and around the state had a tough time taking state-issued English Language Arts tests on Wednesday.

The issue did not affect all the tests, it was the students who were taking the ELA exams online rather than the traditional paper tests who may have been affected. And not all of the students taking online exams were impacted.

A few hundred districts around the state this year agreed to give some of the exams by computer to students in grades 3 through 8.

According to the NYS Education Department, Questar Assessment, the vendor who was providing the online tests, experienced delays in the delivery of the computer exams to some schools. The state says that Questar resolved the matter as quickly as possible with the delay times varying. 

In the West Irondequoit School District, Jeff Crane said that more than 500 students at Dake Junior High were impacted.

“What they found was frustration, what they found was a computer system that was not set in a way that had the capacity to allow them to take their test, do the best they could, with it and then move on,” Crane told WXXI News.

Crane says he is frustrated and disappointed, especially because West Irondequoit worked hard to prepare students to take those online exams.

He says the second day of testing for Junior High students will be delayed until next week, while 3rd graders in his district who took the exams by computer will be able to take their second day of exams on Thursday as planned.

Sherry Johnson of the Monroe County School Boards Association says she heard from a number of local school officials reporting similar problems.

The NYS Education Department  says that districts did successfully administer computer based tests to more than 32,000 students.

The state’s largest teacher’s union, NYSUT, said the technology failures raise serious questions about the speed of what it called, the state’s “rush into computer based testing,” and it says educators are asking the state to, “slow down and get it right.”

State Education officials say that, “while there were some calls to the Support Line asking for assistance, all inquiries were addressed expediently and to the schools’ satisfaction.”

The state also says schools have the flexibility in the test schedule to postpone the exam for another day.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.