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Districts report more tech challenges with RISE testing, although shortlived

By Marjorie Cortez, KSL | Posted - Apr. 30, 2019 at 10:29 p.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY — Technical glitches temporarily interrupted RISE testing in Utah school districts again Tuesday, with some districts opting to halt testing for at least the remainder of the day.

Similar to last week's issues, students received error messages as they attempted to submit test answers or pause testing. The test vendor, Questar, told state education officials they had identified the problem and a solution, which apparently resolved the issue in about an hour.

The vendor determined the cause of the latest glitch was of a different nature than last week's problems, which interrupted testing statewide on Thursday and Friday. Tuesday's issues were resolved in about an hour, according to an email sent to school districts from Utah State Board of Education staff.

Testing scheduled at some 20 Canyons District schools Tuesday was postponed to a later day, according research and assessment director Hal Sanderson.

In Alpine School District, testing was suspended and computers were quarantined to save student test progress until repairs were made, according to district spokeswoman Kimberly Bird.

Mark Huntsman, chairman of the Utah State Board of Education, said board employees have been in constant contact with schools and board members as the state and test vendor work through technological issues.

"The board's expectations are very high. We have contractual requirements we expect out of the vendor. USBE staff is making sure those contractual requirements are being met. That's kind of where we're at. The board isn't being complacent and USBE isn't being complacent and letting it takes its course. It's a very serious time right now with assessment. We want everybody to bring their 'A game' to the table as they're doing it," Huntsman said.

There were also technological issue when the state transitioned to SAGE testing, he said.


"It's not quite business as usual when you have a new system but assessments are happening," Huntsman said Tuesday.

RISE test data is a key component of the state's school accountability system, said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Sydnee Dickson. It also drives important decisions in local schools.

"At the end of the day can the educators in our system use this information accurately to make instructional decisions?" she said.

State education officials are monitoring the situation "minute by minute," Dickson said.

"The good news is, anything that was a new element of surprise to the system, that we were able to work through those in the early part of the testing window. We would expect moving forward that the majority of the issues would be minor and remedied very quickly," she said.

The window for this round of RISE testing is March 19 through June 17, with the latter to accommodate schools on year-round schedules.

Earlier, Darin Nielsen, assistant superintendent of student learning, said the highest volumes of testing are expected in the first three weeks of May.

RISE assessments are scheduled to be given annually to students in grades three through eight in language arts and math using online multistage adaptive testing. Beginning in fourth grade, science is also tested. In grades five and eight, writing is tested.

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