Statewide Testing Failure Reaffirms Need for Legislative Action

Districts could be reimbursed for testing system failures

Wiger Portrait

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The student testing debacle plaguing Minnesota public schools appeared to worsen Wednesday as classroom after classroom all across the state reported problems taking the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA’s) test. The statewide student testing system used to administer the MCA’s test has failed repeatedly throughout this spring’s testing season. In late April Senate E-12 Policy and Budget Chair Sen. Chuck Wiger (DFL-Maplewood) introduced an amendment to the Senate’s E-12 Finance Bill that addressed the problems. Today he reiterates the Senate’s stance on the testing issue:

“It’s absolutely unacceptable that NCS Pearson, Inc.’s system has failed hundreds of thousands of our hard-working K-12 students. This morning’s testing failure simply underscores the continuing problem – and the need for our solution. We discussed this issue at length in our E-12 Conference Committee last week, and the Senate is firm in our commitment to solving this testing issue,” said Wiger.

The Senate’s provision calls for:

  • The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) to provide compensation to districts if they experienced an interruption of service during this year’s testing period
  • The Commissioner of Education to report on the performance of the testing vendor to the legislature
  • The Commissioner of Education to immediately report any future suspensions of testing to the legislature.
  • Limit on standardized testing by reducing the hours that can be spent on testing in the classroom to no more than 19 hours from grades 1 through 6; and 20 hours for grades 7 through 12.
  • Districts don’t have to use the test scores for performance measures if testing was disrupted this year.

Sen. Wiger says it is important to address this significant failing on behalf of testing vendor NCS Pearson, Inc.; a company the state paid $33 million over a two-year period to offer testing services.

Testing problems that have faced countless classrooms this spring have included the test not working at all, testing program freezing up, online calculators freezing up, student’s inability to log into testing site, questions not loading, students will get kicked off mid-way through test and lose work, and more.

NCS Pearson, Inc. sent an email this morning to districts confirming “intermittent issues” and “degraded performance.” An explanation for the problems or when they would be resolved was not given.

Senator Chuck Wiger
Chuck Wiger represents District 43, which includes portions of Ramsey and Washington counties in the northeastern Twin Cities metropolitan area.

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