PARCC testing in New Jersey schools shut down by computer glitch
Standardized testing was interrupted and canceled by many school districts across the state this week as a result of computer glitches.
State Education Commissioner David Hespe, testifying before the Assembly Budget Committee on Wednesday morning, told Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly, D-Passaic, that he was notified by a vice president at Pearson, the company that handles the technical end of the testing, of a problem on their platform on Wednesday morning.
"This was unexpected. We've actually had absolutely no problems during the first three weeks of the testing and we're working with them to figure out the problem."
He expected testing to be able to resume on Thursday.
"We expect them to put all resources into fixing it as soon as possible," Hespe told Wimberly. Hespe did not know if there would be any financial implications to the glitch.
Deputy Education Commissioner Peter Shulman in a statement said all testing was to be completed by 1 p.m.on Wednesday. "Pearson will be working on the problem between 1 and 4PM ET today. During this time, PAN will be unavailable and please do not login. Pearson and NJDOE will work this evening to ensure the system is in optimum state prior to testing beginning tomorrow morning," Shulman said.
"We are disappointed by the disruptions in testing that were created (Wednesday) as a result of errors on the part of Pearson. These kinds of mistakes are unacceptable," said Pearson CEO Laura Slover in an email. She said that "It is important to us that these tests be administered in a way that eliminates avoidable disruptions and inconveniences, and earlier today, leaders from New Jersey and Parcc Inc delivered that message to Pearson in the strongest possible terms."
The snafu is the latest setback for the controversial computer-based test by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC. Last year, just 40 percent of students passed both the language and math portions of the test, while 130,000 students didn’t take the test, including almost one-fourth of 11th graders. Many parents had their children opt out, calling the test disruptive.
Richard Fitzgerald, the superintendent for the Upper Freehold Regional High School District, said the testing website was running slow on Tuesday and "(Wednesday) they had a total failure and Pearson is trying to rectify it. The site is completely shut down."
A tweet from Boonton Superintendent of Schools Rob Presuto said the system "experienced statewide issues" and his district postponed most of Wednesday's scheduled exams.
Charles Sampson, the superintendent of schools for the Freehold Regional School District, tweeted that "disrupted school days (are) not conducive to the type of learning we want here at #FRHSD. We are here to teach not to troubleshoot issues."
Many districts around the state are administering the test this week but others are not. Jackson schools spokeswoman Allison Erwin said the district was giving make-up testing this week and the glitch had a minimal impact.
This year’s PARCC is 90 minutes shorter than last year, with an hour less time for math tests and 30 minutes less for reading and writing. It will be administered once over a two-week span, rather than two testing windows months apart. There will still be 10 to 11 hours of testing time.
Matthew White and Michael Symons contributed to this report