Classroom Technology

Yet Another Online Learning Frustration: Assessment Glitches

By Mark Lieberman — September 16, 2020 1 min read
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Educators and parents in at least three states have shared frustrations in recent days with glitches and connectivity issues as they have tried to access the widely used MAP Growth assessment from NWEA.

A spokesperson for NWEA told Education Week on Wednesday that the issues first cropped up last week and have been affecting students and teachers only intermittently, even within a single district.

“The majority of our school partners have been able to successfully complete their testing sessions,” said Simona Beattie from NWEA. “Regarding the issue, it’s sporadic in nature, making it difficult to nail down and address.”

A quick Twitter search reveals educators in Illinois, South Carolina, and Texas who have posted about negative experiences with the MAP test. “I’ve been giving the MAP test for nearly 20 years, and it’s never been this frustrating,” wrote one user. Another called the test a “giant fail.”

NWEA’s Twitter account has been responding to the frustrated users and urging them to check the company website for status updates. The company shared on Tuesday that it had tapped a third-party vendor to diagnose the outages.

The online MAP assessment gauges K-12 students’ progress in math, reading, language usage, and science. Approximately 10,000 schools and education agencies use the tool, Beattie said.

Some schools have chosen to delay the scheduled date for administering the assessment in order to give more time for the technical problem to be resolved, Beattie said.

As it is, the problem is sometimes resolved when users refresh their browser or join a make-up test later, according to Beattie. The company hasn’t found evidence that the glitches stem from a higher-than-usual number of students accessing the tests from home computers, she said.

Still, the NWEA problem adds yet another technology challenge for hundreds of districts in full- or part-time remote learning mode. Cyberattacks have temporarily shut down school servers in several districts; students and teachers have reported login issues as the new school year begins; and many students still lack the necessary technology at home to even access remote learning opportunities.

Image: Tony Berastegui, 12, left, and his sister Giselle, 9, do their schoolwork at home on the dining room table last spring after schools moved to remote learning. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.