Thursday, June 9, 2016

TX: Yet Another Testing Screw-up

The Texas version of the Big Standardized Test is called the STAAR, which could stand for Some Tests Are Always Ridiculous or maybe Should Throw Away Any Results or even Stupid Tests' Asses Are Raggedy.

This year's STAAR season has been a parade of blunders and clusterfahrfegnugen. There were plenty of reasons not to like the test to begin with (here's a good list of just ten such reasons). But once it came time to actually deploy the test, things just got worse.

A "computer glitch" (which sounds so much nicer than "some programmer screw-up at corporate headquarters") caused a whole bunch of student answers to just disappear. Poof!

A collection of Dallas Houston*-area superintendents (representing over one million students) signed a letter to the state listing over 100 (yes, one hundred) problems with the test ranging from questions that had no actual correct answer to thousands of students listed with the wrong school.

Central Texas school districts also reported extensive problems with pretty much every single aspect of the test. Across the state districts reported mislabeled and misdelivered boxes of testing materials, problems with the software for taking the test, misreporting of results, and errors in test correction.

Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath said that the problems were "unacceptable" but that test results would still be used to judge schools. Because reasons.

That was all a couple of months ago, and now it's June and reports of screw-ups are still rolling in. This week reports showed that the testing company simply lost all of the answer sheets from the Eanes school district.

A district staffer "has been informed that ETS has lost all of our boxes of scoreable results for (grades) 3-8!" he wrote. "We did everything right on our end. ETS agrees that they received the boxes. They just don't know what they have done with them." 

ETS would be Educational Testing Services, not exactly newbies in the testing world. ETS won the Texas contract last year after Texas dumped Pearson as their testing company. Only time will tell if they're going to actually hold onto that contract. In the meantime, we have what has become a not-unusual reformster spectacle-- a big, bold, grand idea that nobody knows how to translate into something that actually works.

*I initially put the wrong city here.


  1. Just when you think STAAR testing can't get more messed up...

  2. Like every other state, Texas will posture and 'fine' the testing company, who will happily accept it as a cost of doing business. In fact, their auditors have probably made them set up a reserve in anticipation of their screw-ups. Of course, they might do a Florida and threaten a fine, but never carry through on it. Regardless, it's not like any testing company will actually lose money for testing problems.

  3. Also, we have filed two lawsuits...

    The most recent is this one, because the tests given this Spring didn't even follow the law in grades 3-8

  4. And this one, which was filed by the Houston Federation of Teachers earlier this year, against VAMSHAM teacher evals....

  5. In fact, the HIS Board will be meeting in about 30 minutes and we ate fighting to keep them from spending another dime on the VAMSHAM contract

  6. Thank you for writing about us, we have been fighting the good fight here for nearly 20 years!! :)

  7. We did mostly get rid of Pearson after nearly 30 years. They definitely lost a LOT of $$! :)