JSD pauses testing again

For approximately two and a half hours Thursday, Juneau students were able to take their standardized exams. Then a familiar error screen appeared.

“They were getting the same dropped connection,” said Phil Loseby, the Juneau School District’s coordinator of assessments and program evaluation. “Then there started to be intermittent failures and (students) were getting the same dropped connection.”

Loseby said instead of wasting the school day trying to regain access to the site managed by an institute out of Kansas, regular school lessons resumed.

This is the second time this week the Alaska Measures of Progress (AMP) electronic exam caused a problem statewide. On Tuesday, a fiber optic cable was severed near Kansas University, which is where the Achievement and Assessment Institute ­generates the exam for all the schools in Alaska. In Juneau, approximately 150 students were affected because the district has a five-week window to take the exam and not all schools start at once.

Loseby said Wednesday that the education department gave the green light to start testing again Thursday, but that eventually proved a premature move.

Marianne Perie, the project director of the Kansas Assessment Program, said Tuesday’s error stemmed from a construction accident and Thursday’s error stemmed from misinformation.

The institute was under the impression that Kansas University restored the full bandwidth necessary for students in Kansas and Alaska to resume testing. It was only after the glitches Thursday that institute officials learned roughly half of the needed bandwidth was not available.

“We do feel every schools pain,” Perie said.

Susan McCauley, the state education department’s interim director, said in a press release Thursday that testing will resume when the Achievement and Assessment Institute can assure the state this won’t happen again.

“The disruption to the learning environment of our students is unacceptable,” McCauly said. “We will not resume the assessments unless the vendor can guarantee that the testing system is fully functional.”

Perie said that institute officials hope to have everything running smoothly by Monday and that some of the options to make that happen include moving data services to a second location or contracting another vendor to transmit exams.

• Contact reporter Paula Ann Solis at 523-2272 or paula.solis@juneauempire.com.

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