The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

April 25, 2014

We don’t care who is to blame — fix the problem

Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Another day of testing for students across Oklahoma. Another day of disruptions and frustration.

Earlier this week, middle school and high school students were taking their mandated tests. Or, at least, they were supposed to be. However, for the second consecutive year, there were computer problems involving testing vendor CTB/McGraw-Hill. Those problems meant many students were unable to log on to take their tests. And, some who were in the middle of the tests were kicked off the computer and had to log on repeatedly in order to finish.

These problems are not conducive to a good testing environment and are absolutely unacceptable. And, for them to happen two years in a row, with a vendor being paid millions of taxpayers dollars, is inexcusable.

State Superintendent Janet Barresi said Monday she was “outraged” by the problems.

Great. Tell that to the students who were trying to do their best on these high-stakes tests but couldn’t through no fault of their own.

Baressi blamed CTB/McGraw-Hill for the problems, saying the problems were “100 percent a failing of CTB.” Last year, CTB accepted blame as well, but Baressi at that time also said there were server problems with the vendor, but “... almost every bit of it was due to district issues.”

Frankly, we don’t care who is to blame. We just want the issues fixed.

There is a lot at stake with these tests: for the students who have to take the tests; their teachers, who are judged on how well their students do; and school districts, who also are judged on performance.

After last year’s problems, the state renewed the contract with CTB for more than $13 million this year because there wasn’t time to design a new test and solicit bids for a new vendor, Barresi said.

That’s two strikes now against the process. Our students deserve better than allowing a third strike.