The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

National and world

April 25, 2014

Vendor apologizes to Oklahoma board for glitches

OKLAHOMA CITY — Hardware failure at a data center cause the glitch that stalled Oklahoma's standardized testing this week, the testing vendor's president said, while apologizing to the state's education board for disrupting exams for the second consecutive year.

"We know how important tests are in the state, so even one child disrupted is not what we intended to happen," CTB/McGraw-Hill president Ellen Haley told a monthly board meeting Thursday.

More than 8,200 students had their tests disrupted Monday because of the malfunctioning hardware, leaving Oklahoma State Superintendent Janet Barresi to suspend all testing that day. Barresi has said she is "outraged" over the hardware failure and has recommended that Oklahoma not renew its contract with CTB/McGraw-Hill for the 2014-2015 school year. Last year, server issues shut down testing statewide for two days.

The testing vendor's technicians identified the problem and fixed it by 11 a.m. Monday, according to a news report.

CTB/McGraw-Hill's chief information officer, Ray Lowrey, said the malfunctioning hardware "caused traffic to run a little bit slower, not enough to shut the system down but enough to cause disruptions in testing. Our focus is finishing Oklahoma testing with no more disruptions."

Board member Lee Baxter responded that "the way you described this made it seem sort of like a lightning strike. In other words, it was an act of God."

Lowrey said what happened was unusual and something he hasn't seen during his 20 years in the technology industry.

After last year's testing problems, Oklahoma reached a settlement agreement with CTB/McGraw-Hill for more than $1.2 million in damages, including a $367,000 cash settlement that was disbursed directly to districts. The money was also used for additional training for teachers and to conduct a study on the impact of the disruptions on student test scores.

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AP Source: Tulsa World

 

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