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Technical glitches prompt extension for online student achievement testing

Technical problems with online achievement tests in Minnesota schools have led the state Department of Education to extend the testing period.

In a memo to state superintendents, Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius expressed support for the mandatory tests, but notes: “[A]s we have seen in the past several weeks, technology is not infallible.”

Education Week reported April 30:

Earlier this month in Minnesota, a computer hiccup stopped students from either beginning or finishing online versions of the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment — the problem was with the American Institutes for Research, the testing contractor for the state. Of 15,000 students affected by the glitch, about 9,000 were able to finish the test.

Cassellius told the superintendents:

School districts should continue testing until all students have successfully completed testing. Updates on the length of the extension for online tests will be forthcoming as we continue to monitor the situation and strategize with districts, teachers and stakeholders.

While some have suggested that this year’s tests be suspended altogether, we do not believe that halting forward progress in our efforts to provide better testing and better information is in the best interests of students, teachers, parents and the public. Continuing testing to completion allows us to conduct a full evaluation of this year’s testing so that we can make future improvements to the system and better assure the accuracy of any results that will be reported.

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