A story that KPCW broadcast this morning reporting that Summit and Wasatch County schools were spared from the problems that have plagued the new state-wide testing program – was short lived. KPCW has learned that testing at Treasure Mountain Junior High School today has gone awry. KPCW’s Leslie Thatcher has more.
A Treasure Mountain Middle School parent reported to KPCW that their student – who had been pulled out of regular classes today – had called to ask their parent to pick them up because testing had been called off – and they had nothing to do.
Park City School District Communications Director Melinda Colton responded that yes, the earlier report WAS accurate – other schools which have tested have been fine.
Treasure Mountain started the testing today and everything she says was fine until about 11 this morning. She says it’s a statewide technical issue. Technology Director Drew Frink is working with the state to fix the problem. Treasure Mountain and any other school taking the RISE test today she added is suspending the test. The district is just now starting assessments and has until late May to finish them.
The ASPIRE test at the high school was also given today and and according to Colton proceeded normally.
Technical problems with Utah's new $44-million RISE tests have affected more than 18,000 3rd through 8th grade students –and with today’s problems – those numbers will be going up.
RISE is an acronym for Readiness, Improvement, Success, and Empowerment. RISE was selected by the state school board as a replacement for SAGE testing.
According to Assistant Superintendent of Student Learning from the State Office Darin Nielsen, they had planned for issues expected with any new testing system. They’re now working with the vendor to provide a valid and reliable state assessment system. They also need to determine if the service interruption had an impact on the validity of the students' test results.
KPCW spoked to Nielsen – just an hour before Treasure Mountain’s problem was reported. He told us he thought the problem had been fixed. He received an email from the vendor last week that they had resolved the problem for the language arts and math portions of the test, but continued to work through Friday to implement a fix on the science portion. Software fixes he says are typically done after-hours.
“Typically, this is true for I think most software,” he said “when you have an application that's running - in this case the statewide assessment system, you don't want to install patches during the middle of that so they'll do those after-hours typically and that's what they did on Friday night and then yesterday statewide testing resumed as scheduled for all 3 contents.”
At the time the problem had happened last week – it was reported no data had been lost and students won’t have to retest.
“So, now what we're in the process of doing is verifying that independently,” he said. “So, our vendor has told us that no data has been lost that students tests that were submitted were able to be recorded so we're in the process of working with our vendor to obtain data that allow us to verify that.”
His hope that the problems were behind them though was premature.
"That problem has been resolved,” he said “and we're hopeful that we won't encounter similar issues moving forward.”
Wasatch County Communications Director Kirsta Alberts told KPCW their assessment specialist reports that all of the scores have been posted. She says as a result of the issue they have asked individual schools to review the rosters to make sure that’s the case.
South Summit School District spokesperson Jodi Jones says they are not administering any science test during the outage and were not impacted earlier – as far as they’re aware.
The RISE assessments are given every year to third through eighth graders in the areas of language arts and math. Beginning in grade four, science is also tested. Writing is tested in fifth and eighth grade.
This is the first year that RISE tests have been administered. Before this year, SAGE tests were used.