Some standardized testing on hold in more than dozen states

Standardizing testing is on hold in more than a dozen states because of Internet problems at the University of Kansas where the test developer is based.

The university’s Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation provides general end-of-year assessments for students in Kansas and Alaska. It also offers testing for students with significant cognitive disabilities in those states and 14 others — Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Issues arose Tuesday when a backhoe severed a major fiber cable. Testing was canceled for the rest of the day before resuming Wednesday but was again suspended Thursday afternoon because of service disruptions. After students again experienced problems Friday morning, the testing suspension was resumed.

Marianne Perie, the center’s director, said the suspension is causing “huge problems,” especially for larger districts.

“They have very specific schedules about which students can go in which lab at which time and this outage has really messed up their schedule,” she said.

Perie said she hoped the issues would be resolved by Monday. She said efforts are being made to move servers off campus, at least until the damaged cable is repaired.

“We will be working all weekend,” she said. “We are doing the best we can under a horrible situation.”

Two years ago, a cyber-attack caused widespread problems after test designers resolved internal technical glitches that had previously slowed test-taking. No student information was compromised, but the testing was so disrupted that Kansas didn’t report 2014 scores to the federal government.

Following the attack, the testing center moved its servers, which had been off campus, onto the campus so they would be better protected. Perie said the center would again review the situation again before determining the best location for the servers going forward.

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