Measuring the Impact of Common-Core Test Disruptions in Three States

By Andrew Ujifusa — June 19, 2015 1 min read
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Remember the technical woes that plagued three states that gave the Smarter Balanced exams earlier this year? Now there’s an update about the exact effect those testing disruptions had on test-takers.

The Associated Press reports that according to Measured Progress, the vendor that administered the exams in Nevada, Montana, and North Dakota, just 37 percent of Nevada students completed computerized Smarter Balanced tests in English/language arts and math, while 76 percent of Montana students did so. And in North Dakota, 88 percent of students completed either computer or paper versions of the exam.

Now, there’s a federal education mandate that at least 95 percent of students take these exams. But just how the U.S. Department of Education will handle the participation rates those three states is unclear. The AP raises the possibility that the department might show leniency to states by counting students who participated in the test but weren’t able to complete it towards the 95-percent threshold.

Nevada Superintendent Dale Erquiaga told the Las Vegas Sun on June 18 that he doesn’t expect federal funding to be withheld as a result of Nevada’s woes. The state education department has also provided regulatory relief for districts due to the problems with Smarter Balanced, which is aligned to the Common Core State Standards. And Montana simply let districts decide whether to administer the test after multiple technical glitches.

In the wake of the state’s problems with administering the test, the state filed a breach of contract claim against Measured Progress, and Erquiaga said he is still exploring legal action against the company. Measured Progress, in turn, pointed the finger at the American Institutes for Research for problems in delivering key software to give the test. And AIR has defended its work with Measured Progress, with assessment chief Jon Cohen saying there were only “minimal delays.”

And the AP reported that despite the Smarter Balanced problems, Montana will continue with Measured Progress as its testing contractor. Measured Progress administered the state’s previous English/language arts and math exams.

A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.