The first round of STAAR testing begins this week for hundreds of thousands of Texas school children.
The State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) exams are annual assessments of students in subjects like reading, writing, mathematics, science, history and more.
The company that contracts with the state to design the STAAR test – Educational Testing Service (ETS) – has a lot of ground to make up this year to overcome the mistakes made last year that resulted in 71,000 online STAAR test results being thrown out.
The discarded tests were in addition to 30,000-plus more test takers – more than 100,000 students in total – who experienced some form of a glitch that either resulted in students being kicked out of the online version of the exam, or were forced to attempt to log-in multiple times due to server issues.
“While we plan for our online testing to be 100% error-free, there is always the potential for human and technical issues,” noted a spokesperson for the Texas Education Agency. “Our vendor ETS is aware of the issues that affected the 2018 assessment and has made adjustments to prevent any such future issues.”
ETS blamed the 2018 issues on two factors – human error and computer server failures. The human error involved an employee, who was later fired, who ran a test of the computer system while students were in the system taking their exams. The server errors, according to an ETS spokesperson, were due to a surge of students taking the exam which overwhelmed the system.
ETS is in the final year of a five-year, $276,105,731 contract with the State of Texas. The contract expires on August 31, 2019. Bids for a new contract are currently being accepted, and are due by this Thursday, according to a TEA spokesperson.