One major problem is the computer servers from ACT’s Vantage testing system became overloaded and crashed when students from Kentucky, Ohio and Alabama simultaneously tried to access tests on line.
Following a week of unsuccessful fixes, KDE News Release 13-049 admits the department has thrown in the towel and cancelled all attempts at on line end-of-course test administration for 2013.
KDE says paper and pencil testing packages for end-of-course tests are being distributed now, but the printed materials may not reach all of the approximately 60 percent of Kentucky high schools that formerly planned to test on line before May 13, 2013.
The on line testing failure thoroughly disrupts KDE’s plans to require counting end-of-course test results in each student’s final grade in English II, Algebra II, biology and US History classes. The news release says incorporation of all end-of-course results is now totally optional at local school district discretion.
This adds to other, very different, testing woes revealed by the Bluegrass Institute last week concerning the quiet collapse early this year of the constructed-response questions (sometimes called written answer questions or open-response questions) in the same end-of-course exams.
Apparently, ACT, a highly respected testing organization, was unable to provide acceptable quality constructed-response question scoring in a timely manner at a cost Kentucky could afford. KDE told school systems as early as January 2013 that the state would not have ACT score the constructed-response questions at all. Districts could decide on their own if they even wanted to score the constructed-response questions locally using their own teachers. The policy change meant end-of-course tests no longer would be standardized across the state.
Now, ACT has shown it was unable to accurately simulate the impact students in just three states would have on its computers. That made the actual, live testing of students the ultimate test of ACT’s system’s performance – a test this testing organization has failed.
On a national level, Kentucky’s rapidly growing, real world testing mess raises more concerns about Common Core State Standards (CCSS)-based efforts across the country to conduct testing with a large component of constructed-response questions and to move the testing to the cloud.