BUFFALO, N.Y. — Computer issues surrounding the state issued education tests have forced the New York State Education Department to postpone computer-based testing (CBT) for at least one day.
The program is administered by Questar.
At least one school district in WNY, Iroquois Central, confirmed it had issues and told 2 On Your Side it heard other districts were having problems.
Education officials issued a statement regarding the technical difficulties:
"NYSED expects seamless administration of its CBT program and we will use this time to work with Questar to ensure the system will operate smoothly when CBT resumes. In addition, NYSED will work with schools to provide guidance on how to resolve outstanding issues with today’s CBT administration. We thank our districts and schools for their incredible support and patience as we work through these issues."
Questar reports more than 84,000 testing sessions were submitted Tuesday. Questar has dispatched additional staff around the state to provide technical assistance to schools.
Questar Assessment Inc. Chief Operating Officer Brad Baumgartner released a statement Tuesday evening:
“Questar Assessment Inc. has additional staff in place around New York, in response to testing delays experienced at some schools Tuesday. Questar is proactively working with the NYSED and individual school districts to keep them informed. Despite some delays, approximately 84,000 test sessions were successfully submitted Tuesday.”
NYSED has extended the testing window for the computer based ELA test.
This isn't the first time the state has had problems with Questar.
Last year, hackers disrupted state testing and the rollout of these new ELA exams was full of technical errors with many students unable to save their work.
On Questar's homepage, the company brags about its successful programs in New York and lists how it's done the ELA and math assessments since 2015. That's when the state dumped the testing company, Pearson, and signed a five-year, $44-million contract with Questar.
Part of the state's deal with Questar required the company to come up with computer-based testing.
"I heard Lancaster, Iroquois, Frontier had some problems," Chris Cerrone said.
Chris Cerrone is with New York State Allies for Public Education, an advocacy group founded by parents.
"Now we've seen two years in a row where the computers have crashed, students have lost their work, they've delayed throughout the day, and a big problem is now there's more time list to instruction because students sat in testing rooms today for hours without taking a test," Cerrone said.
Questar would not do an interview with 2 On Your Side Tuesday and instead just sent us the statement.
"You have to question whether technology is always the greatest thing in the world in improvements, so you have to wonder if student computer skills play a role in this, does it show a difference between wealthier and poorer communities because students will have computers or they don't have computers, so that certainly is a problem," Cerrone said.
The State Education Department did not respond to our request for an interview.
"It just goes to show that there's all kinds of problems and parents should be questioning whether our students should be taking these assessments in the first place," Cerrone said.
NYSED has not said when testing will continue.
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