Petersburg schools testing down due to Kansas cable debacle

The state of Alaska has suspended a state-mandated test because of ongoing problems with the computer based assessment.

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Students across Alaska started taking the online Alaska Measures of Progress assessment Tuesday. Testing that day was ended when a construction crew severed a fiber optic cable at the University of Kansas, where the vendor Achievement and Assessment Institute is based.

Statewide the assessment was on hold until Thursday morning. However, districts again had problems after the vendor’s system crashed several times, according to the Alaska Department of Education. Department spokesman Eric Fry says they believed the problem was fixed Thursday.

“It was going on and off and that’s just too disruptive to the school day,” Fry said. “The students have to leave class and go to a room where the computers are and they sit down to take the test and if it’s constantly being disrupted it becomes an enormous waste of time and we cant ask the teachers and the students to put up with something that starts and stops like that. So the interim commissioner Susan McCauley decided to tell districts to just suspend testing.”

McCauley told school districts they would not resume the testing until the company can guarantee their system is fully functional.

The problems impacted students in middle and high school in Petersburg this week. Students in lower grades were supposed to take the tests next week.

This particular statewide test is in it’s second year, developed for Alaska by the Kansas-based company under a 25 million dollar contract. The Alaska Measures of Progress assessment will be replaced for next year.

Joe Viechnicki is a reporter at KFSK in Petersburg.

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