First day of STAAR testing canceled for thousands of students due to tech issues

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Students wearing masks during the pandemic, 2021 (Nexstar)

Harlingen, Texas (KVEO)—Texas education officials advised districts to suspend the first day of STAAR testing after thousands of students showed up in person and were prevented from taking the standardized test online because of widespread technical issues across the state.

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“Earlier today, districts experienced connectivity issues with the STAAR Online Testing Platform (SOTP),” said the TEA in a statement. “We posted updates to the STAAR Assessment Management System dashboard every 10 minutes to keep districts apprised of the progress in resolving the issue.”

“The three STAAR tests affected were Grade 4 writing, Grade 7 writing, and English I. This was the first of five days that students were eligible to take one of these three tests online.” reads the statement.

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The TEA said they are analyzing data to determine the number of students affected. Students could have experienced four different scenarios with online testing today:

1) the student could have successfully submitted the test without disruption;
2) the student could have successfully submitted answers but may have noticed unusually slow response times;
3) the student could have been prevented from logging in, to begin with; or
4) the student could have begun to answer questions, but at some point was prevented from continuing, and in this instance, answers were saved every thirty seconds so that these students will be able to pick up where they left off.

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“We understand the frustration this has caused students, parents, teachers, and administrators. What happened today is completely unacceptable.” said the TEA. “ETS, the testing vendor, experienced problems with their database system, which are in the process of being corrected. The 2021 online administration of STAAR will be ETS’s last for the State of Texas. Beginning next school year, Cambium Assessment will be taking over these critical testing functions to ensure that users have a seamless online testing experience moving forward.”

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