JSD resumes AMP testing after statewide glitch

Students will resume Alaska’s standardized test today after a fiber optic glitch more than 2,000 miles away interrupted them earlier this week.

Phil Loseby, Juneau School District’s coordinator of assessments and program evaluation, said administrators initially feared someone internally caused Tuesday’s technical glitch. They quickly learned the problem started outside of Juneau.

“The entire world could not access Kansas University’s website,” Loseby said.

Kansas University is the site where Alaska Measures of Progress (AMP) electronic exams are generated by the Achievement and Assessment Institute.

The first day for electronic AMP testing was Tuesday, Loseby said, but not all schools and students started on the same day. There is a five-week window for taking the exam. Only an estimated 150 students in grades third through 10th were testing when an error screen appeared.

According to information the testing facility released to testing sites in Alaska, a cut to a fiber optic cable near the University of Kansas caused the interruption.

“It’s really an unfortunate event,” Loseby said. “It’s not related to the assessment or the vendor; it was a construction related accident, but it was incredibly ill-timed.”

The ill-timing Loseby referred to speaks to more than just the fact that children were actively testing across the state. This is only the second year Alaska schools have used the AMP test and already the Alaska Superintendents Association has recommended the state abandon the standardized measure. The education department uses $25 million of allocated funds to pay for the assessment institute’s services as part of a five-year contract.

What happened Tuesday isn’t a reflection of the institute providing the exam, Loseby said, and testing will resume today.

When testing resumes, students will be able to continue where they left off because of a district protocol that saves data as students work.

“When you use something like technology (these interruptions) are a fact of life,” Loseby said. “You have to roll with it.”

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

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