The Alaska Measures of Progress and Alaska Alternate assessments have been suspended indefinitely.
The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development will wait for word from the testing vendor, the Achievement and Assessment Institute, that connectivity problems are not going to continue during this round of testing, after repeat delays occurred within the first week.
“As you can imagine this is highly disruptive to schools in a general and especially on students,” said Brian Laurent, data management supervisor for the Department of Education and Early Development.
School districts were asked to resume testing Thursday, but that morning calls and emails began coming in similar to those received Tuesday when the entire state was cut off from the assessment system after a construction vehicle drove over and severed a fiber optic cable shutting down Internet on the University of Kansas’ campus, where the Achievement and Assessment Institute is based. Students were again unable to log on to the test or were disconnected in the middle of taking it.
Laurent explained the fix following Tuesday’s incident did provide sufficient bandwidth for everyone testing through the server. Right now school districts in Alaska, Kansas and other states are trying to complete assessments with AAI, he said.
“We received communication from Dr. Susan McCauley, EED Interim Commissioner, letting us know that Alaska will not continue with AMP testing unless the testing vendor can provide guarantees that the KITE testing system is fully functional,” said Pegge Erkeneff, school district spokesperson. “KPBSD has suspended testing until further direction comes from EED.”
The testing vendor is currently troubleshooting the issue. The state is asking for guarantees and information from the vendor no earlier than Monday, to give AAI enough time to come up with a permanent solution Laurent said. Educators are scheduling lessons around the test, he said.
The state does not want to allow the chance for classroom routines to experience any further disruptions, said Elizabeth Davis, administrator of Standards Implementation for the Department of Education and Early Development.
“The disruption to the learning environment of our students is unacceptable,” said Interim Commissioner Susan McCauley in a Thursday press release.
The state has been working closely with the school district and the other 53 public school districts around the state to resolve the issue. Davis said the cooperation of superintendents and testing coordinators has helped the state tremendoulsy.
She said the delays cannot continue indefinitely.
Laurent said right now the Department of Education and Early Development is immediately focused on fixing the issues.
He said cancelling the 2016 test would have major impacts on federal regulations and state requirements, and while the timing of the cut cable couldn’t have been worse, there is a five-week testing window that allows for some cushioning and flexibility.
“What we are going through is truly unprecedented,” Laurent said.
Reach Kelly Sullivan firstname.lastname@example.org.