The Herald-Leader is reporting that the ACT, Inc. is unable to make required upgrades to its digital testing support systems in time for KPREP high school End-of-Course testing this coming spring in Kentucky. ACT will be able to support only a small portion of the number of students who must take these tests this coming spring. Thus, for almost all Kentucky students, the tests will revert to paper-and-pencil only. Kentucky Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday says his department is exploring other test support options and ACT will be returning a portion of its testing contract fees.
Significant problems surfaced with the KPREP End-of-Course testing in Kentucky’s high schools at the end of the 2012-2013 school term. ACT was unable to provide adequate turn-around time for the open-response written answer part of the End-of-Course assessments and those questions were dropped entirely from the 2012-2013 year testing.
Then, ACT’s digital network proved incapable of handling the demand from Kentucky and several other states, resulting in considerable disruption of the testing process. In the end, a number of students who had planned to take the tests on line were required to complete paper-and-pencil versions.
Thus, doubts about testing support for Common Core testing across the nation remain. It appears that digital engineers at ACT and other companies were unable to accurately project the equipment needs to properly support on line testing for a large number of students. As a result, it is also likely that current testing company cost estimates for on line testing are seriously in error on the low side.
In addition, many states are still aligning to Common Core and have not even started to use on line assets. With the respected ACT, Inc. already running into problems serving only a handful of states, and with two other testing companies also running into major on line problems last year, questions remain about the entire testing industry’s infrastructure and its capability to support the ambitious Common Core testing plans.