Computer errors invalidate Nebraska writing exam scores

Dive Brief:

  • Nebraska officials have deemed the writing scores of this year's eighth and 11th graders invalid due to a bevy of computer malfunctions during February's testing window.  
  • The spoiled exam scores will not be included in the annual State of the Schools report, which typically provides scores in writing, reading, math, and science for each applicable grade.  
  • During the February testing, fourth grade students took the writing exam on paper, while the eighth and 11th graders used computers and were met with issues such as getting kicked offline in the middle of writing, being unable to log on, and losing portions of work repeatedly.  

Dive Insight:

Nebraska contracted with Data Recognition Corp. to give the test and has yet to decide whether it will pay the Minnesota-based company the $177,000 cost of the 2014 writing test.  However, the state has still decided to contract the company again for next year's exam.  This issue of compromised test scores is not unique to Nebraska but cropped up nationally, especially as more states are taking exams online.  Working with Data Recognition Corp. to ensure the same issues do not occur again is key — or else the contract will turn into a continual sunk cost.  

Nebraska is still trying to decide whether or not it will turn in the questionable scores to the U.S. Department of Education as part of its No Child Left Behind Waiver requirement.  

Recommended Reading

Lincoln Journal Star : Problems with state writing test prompts education officials to toss results


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K12 Technology