ACT glitch causes testing problems

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Local districts unaffected

By Kelly Cantrall

End-of-course exams begin soon in local school districts and with some trepidation, as districts around the state ran into a glitch in the online testing system.

The Kentucky Department of Education suspended testing Thursday after about 25 school districts in the state experienced problems with online ACT end-of-course exams, according to a department news release. Districts experienced slow and dropped connections during testing this week, and the technology problems were attributed to ACT Inc., which is increasing its system capacity because of the problems, department spokeswoman Nancy Rodriguez said.

Elizabethtown Independent Schools and Hardin County Schools weren’t affected as they had not begun administering the exams. Districts receive instructions today as to how to proceed with testing, which reopens Monday, Rodriguez said.

Elizabethtown High School plans to begin administering exams next week, said Mike Selvitelle, EIS director of assessments. The exams are given in English II, Algebra II, biology and U.S. history and are considered as part of the course grade and in the state accountability system.

Some testing began in alternative programs at HCS but was unaffected, said Mark Kopp, associate superintendent for instruction. The majority of the testing for HCS begins later this month.

Both Kopp and Selvitelle said they hope their schools’ exams go smoothly. Paper tests are sent to districts as another option, but Selvitelle and Kopp like the online version.

Both districts went to the online format last year, which gives immediate feedback on the exams. Kopp said if the district had to use the paper tests, results won’t be released until the end of the school year, which would be a hardship on school counselors.

About 60 percent of districts use the online test format, according to a department news release.

Many of the services and tools used in districts are now cloud-based, which means files and applications are used through a network like the Internet, including student records through the service Infinite Campus. It’s something on which districts are very dependent now, Selvitelle said, and it can be problematic if the connection is lost.

Kelly Cantrall can be reached at (270) 505-1747 or kcantrall@thenewsenterprise.com.