Math, reading tests results may not go public

Amy Lawson

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas education officials are considering not releasing the results of annual state math and reading tests after computer problems and cyberattacks have plagued the administration of this year’s exams.

Deputy education commissioner Brad Neuenswander said test results won’t be used in any way if officials are concerned they might give an invalid picture, especially in light of decisions by some school districts to delay the tests or interrupt the process.

“We won’t use the data in any way that we’re not confident it makes a valid claim,” Neuenswander said.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports (http://bit.ly/Ri62w5 ) that the state is trying new computerized tests this spring that are more technologically advanced. But when schools started giving the tests in March, technical problems prevented students from taking the tests.

The tests are being developed at the University of Kansas which resolved many glitches, but cyberattacks soon followed that prevented schools from accessing the exams. Districts, in some cases, stopped work on the exams or curtailed efforts in a move to prevent wasting classroom time to navigate problems.

The university worked through the cyberattacks and schools have made some progress. Marianne Perie, director of KU’s Center for Education Testing and Evaluation, said more than 120,000 tests were completed last week. Thus far, students have completed more than 218,000 of the 600,000 tests in math, English and science.

“I’m cautiously optimistic that we’ve turned a corner,” Perie said.

School districts have expressed unease about using the testing results even if they are completed by the May 16 deadline.

“Even if they’re accurate, they’re not valid,” said Steve Pegram, superintendent of Santa Fe Trail. “When you disrupt the testing situation, you disrupt the validity.”

Neuenswander said the data will be analyzed to determine completion rates and results after the May deadline. The state will consider asking for federal approval not to publish the data if it isn’t valid. He said states have been given exemptions for publishing the data if there are extenuating circumstances.

Regardless if the data is published, the tests are part of a pilot program for the new student assessment program and will not count toward school accreditation or teacher evaluations.

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Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, http://www.cjonline.com

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