OKLA. CITY —
Deer Creek Public School District official Cindy Koss voiced concerns that testing results may be flawed due to circumstances surrounding the testing process that took place in April and May.
In early May Edmond School District Superintendent David Goin addressed similar concerns in a letter to the Edmond-area legislative delegation.
Koss, chief academic officer for the Deer Creek District, reported to the Deer Creek board members there were invalidations and screen lock-up delays resulting in tests having to be retaken.
Koss told board members, “This was an unusually busy, complicated testing period this year.”
She was referring to the State Testing issues that occurred during the Spring 2013 Oklahoma Core Curriculum Testing for Grades 3-8 and high school End-of-Instruction testing.
Testing began April 3, and Koss reported the testing was laden with glitches from the top to the bottom of the testing ladder.
“This included a bomb threat the day 76 calculus students took their test at Francis Tuttle,” Koss said. With only a few minutes left of the testing period the building had to be evacuated and the test retaken at a later date.
Koss added many of the issues were not unique to Deer Creek Public Schools but were issues that occurred across the state as well as in Indiana.
Koss provided board members with 40 pages of emails that were exchanged between school officials, the Oklahoma State Department of Education and the testing company, CTB McGraw Hill.
“We believe it is important that we know the extent of the challenges that our students and staff faced,” Koss said. “ It is clear as you read through the documentation and a sample of the emails and memos from the Oklahoma State Department of Education and the testing company that this was a difficult testing year, particularly during April and May 2013.”
Koss explained one of the problems was the last-minute modification of the English II test writing model. This involved canceling testing for 132 students scheduled to be tested.
April 30 Algebra I students were scheduled to take tests and were not able to and had to retake the test at a later time.
Sixth graders taking the online math test had one question with no correct answer given.
“Notice arrived at the school at 11:13 a.m. on the day of the test,” Koss said.
Reading answer documents for fourth and fifth graders had a stop sign incorrectly placed after item 59 and notice was received after testing was in progress at some sites, Koss said. There was an additional question on the next page.
A stop sign on a test means to not turn the page and do not continue. Officials from the testing company said there will be no adverse affect in the scores of the students who did not attempt to answer the next question.
Connectivity issues were faced when the CTB servers went down and there was no backup server, which caused a disruption in testing.
Students scheduled to take an Algebra I test were rescheduled when the peak volume was too great and the infrastructure failed.
“April 29 and 30 the CTB servers experienced problems and students were unable to remain in their online testing session,” Koss said. “One hundred-and-thirty-one English II students taking a multiple choice test had multiple interruptions during the test.”
The students had completed the test, but because of the problems were allowed to retake the test but few chose to do so, Koss said.
The afternoon schedule with a new group was canceled and rescheduled at a later date.
Koss told board members that these are high-stakes tests and multiple interruptions affected student test takers.
“I have a question about the validity of the tests even though students were allowed to re-take some of the tests,” Koss said. “The logistics problems we faced caused amplified stress and minimized optimum testing solutions.”
Koss said her concern is that schools across the state, including Deer Creek, are going to be judged on the outcome of the tests taken under less than the best conditions, through no fault of the school district or the students.
Many times students especially in the upper grades taking EOI tests are just glad they passed and not concerned about whether they could have scored higher, Koss said. She added that this will affect the overall grade for the school and district.
Koss told board members that 18 students took tests and were given the wrong scores including students in sixth, seventh and eighth grades, U.S. History, Biology, math and English.
“We will be checking the final reports when we receive them,” Koss said.
Koss added there are only a few major companies in the United States that do this type of testing and there were problems with the company that provided testing for the school districts last year.
Board President Danny Barnes said, “I think it is beyond the pale that our grades will be determined with these things happening.”
Koss said AP testing took place starting May 6 with the last test given May 29. She reported larger numbers of students took Advanced Placement tests this year than last year. In 2012, 341 AP tests were taken by 235 students and in 2013 563 tests were taken by 300 students.
AP exams taken by grade level included: 10th grade, 49; 11th grade, 2,37l and 12th grade, 277.
“The average number of exams taken was 1.9,” Koss said, almost double the number of AP tests taken in 2011-12.
The students will be able to receive their individual results online in July, and the district will receive the testing results in August, Koss added.
Superintendent Ranet Tippens told board members more than 10,000 tests were given requiring hours of preparation for the testing ahead of time, monitoring of the tests and collecting and preparing the tests to be sent back after the tests were completed.
“We want to have the best testing environment for our students and we take giving these tests very seriously,” Koss said.
Barnes said, “I also think there is too much testing. I don’t know what the answer is, but there has got to be a better way to evaluate.”
Tippens responded, “Data should drive instruction but right now it is not set up that way.”
The Oklahoma State Department of Education has commissioned a third-party to conduct an impact study to determine what effect the disruptions had on the students’ test scores, said Tricia Pemberton, senior communications specialist for the Oklahoma State Department of Education.
“Once we receive the final report we’ll be able to determine how those scores will be applied to A-F,” Pemberton added.
TO READ a copy of Superintendent David Goin’s letter to Edmond legislators go to edmondschools.net and click on Superintendent’s Message.