Test maker will compensate Georgia for recent testing glitches

Remember that Get Schooled post from the Athens teacher maintaining the state of Georgia ought to get a refund from CTB/McGraw-Hill due to all the glitches in the roll-out of the new Milestones exams?

Well, the state is not getting as much back as the teacher wanted, but it’s getting something.

From DOE today:

Is there too much testing in Georgia schools?

Problems with new tests prompted CTB/McGraw-Hill to offer the state some compensation.

CTB/McGraw-Hill will provide $4.5 million in services at no cost to the Georgia Department of Education, following content errors and disruptions during 2015 Georgia Milestones testing, State School Superintendent Richard Woods announced today.

Those services include safeguards to ensure future administrations of the test take place with no similar issues.

That funding includes $2.64 million to create and implement end-of-course assessments serving the new traditional/discrete math course options – meaning those tests will be developed at no expense to Georgia taxpayers. CTB/McGraw-Hill will also provide:

· Up to $120,000 for an in-state program manager to serve as a point of contact for the GaDOE for one year, helping to coordinate, organize and prioritize tasks requiring GaDOE review and input

· Up to $60,000 toward an independent analysis of the problems that took place in 2015-16

· Over $1.6 million in additional services

After a recent meeting between CTB/McGraw-Hill President Ellen Haley and Superintendent Woods, CTB/McGraw-Hill agreed to provide the services listed above as recompense for the errors and disruptions that took place during the 2015 test administration.

“Holding CTB/McGraw-Hill accountable for these issues was nonnegotiable for us,” Superintendent Woods said. “The problems were not widespread, but for the students who were affected, that does not matter. It was essential that we ensure this never happens again. The vendor has worked with us to make sure those safeguards are in place, and to ensure Georgia is compensated for the services that were not rendered effectively. Fortunately, in this circumstance, that means we’re able to eliminate some expenses for the taxpayer.”

As part of Superintendent Woods’ larger focus on testing, he has started the planning process of working with nonprofits to conduct an audit of state and local testing.

Background:

During the 2015 administration of the Georgia Milestones end-of-grade tests, many schools tested students online, and some of those schools experienced periodic connection issues. These were attributed, in many cases, to the lengthy delay in the test administration system’s ability to sync student information across databases.

Other students encountered instances of the test “freezing” or taking prolonged periods of time to load the next test question. This issue became more predominant on April 21 and 22, as more schools across the state began to test. Many students who were granted an accommodation of using a screen reader to read test questions experienced more delays and interruptions than other students, due to an insufficient number of testing vendor servers to handle the number of screen readers used. On April 21 and 22, GaDOE suspended testing for the impacted students while CTB/McGraw-Hill worked to identify the cause and remediate.

The interruptions were sporadic and scattered across the state, affecting a relatively small number of students. At no time was Georgia required to suspend all testing, as was the case in other states this spring.

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Reader Comments 0

18 comments
Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

"The interruptions were sporadic and scattered across the state, affecting a relatively small number of students. At no time was Georgia required to suspend all testing, as was the case in other states this spring."


There is a vast gulf between "affecting a relatively small number of students" and "suspend all testing."  Just because Georgia did not have to suspend all testing does not mean only a small number of students were affected.  In my school alone, all students taking the read aloud portion had severe problems, and in the regular testing situations, we had issues and glitches with probably 10% of the students, though most were ones we could manage to navigate around by resetting the tests, restarting the computers, or switching computers. However, my administration saw the whole thing as a "success" because we did not have the wide-spread crashes that other systems were dealing with.  On the other hand, had I personally designed a interactive lesson for my students that had the level of failure that the testing did, I would not have counted it as a success.  It would have been back to the drawing board. 

jerryeads
jerryeads

@Quidocetdiscit  Yep - sounds like a WHOLE lot of abject disaster went on short of shutting down the whole state. Unfortunately, you and your kids are the drawing board.

living-in-outdated-ed
living-in-outdated-ed

What happened to "negotiation?"   Why did this story not discuss where the negotiations started?  Makes it seem that Woods took whatever was offered.   Don't politicians know how to negotiate?   Seems we're missing part of the story.

jerryeads
jerryeads

Interesting - pops doesn't want educators in charge of the space program. Sane folks wouldn't want engineers in charge of education, either. Of course, we - I repeat WE - put educators in charge of the millions upon millions of our kids. Spaceys only have to worry about a few pilots. Fortunately, schools don't go boom. (Okay, maybe some tests did - but those were built by a FOR PROFIT company, not the educators.)

On the "agreement" - CTB agreed to "provide $4.5 million in services at no cost - " - - - those services may be kinda like the values local and fed law enforcement claim when they seize drugs - $4.5 million in cocaine turns out to be a pound or two. Notice, that's "service" over and above what the state - YOUR tax money at work - already paid and will continue to pay. The company never agreed to refunding payment for botched work - simply offered to provide "services" that are worth pennies on the so-called dollar. Might actually cost 'em a hundred grand, chicken feed to a company that size.

Look and Cat (HI!): CTB is one of two - maybe three - testing companies big enough to take this on. The rest of what were 'big guns' have gone by the wayside over the years. Pearson may be the only other entity that could do this leap into screen-based testing at scale. Some of the "small" kids on the block - many of whom do superb work - might be able to compete for state contracts once the bugs get figured out. But right now it's just the gorillas.


Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@jerryeads Hey, jerry!  Yeah, I know CTB has been very big for a long time. Profited mightily from Reading First program as Friends of Bush (FoB).  You'd think, since person power isn't a problem, they could have had this working like a Swiss train!

jerryeads
jerryeads

@Wascatlady @jerryeads  :-) - oh gawd - RF was one of the biggest profit stings ever in education. Rivaled $2,000 wrenches and toilets for the military. I'm fascinated at these folks who ping teachers but seem just fine with profiteers stealing billions of THEIR tax bux to no benefit.

I think I worry as much about the other one becoming a total monopoly, though. Granted, CTB has done its share of, um, interesting profit taking, but they're the only ones left who can stand up to Pearson. Once this starts to sort out and the infrastructure is at least up to five years behind (Thanx, Sonny, for stealing $8 billion from your voters' kids), the 'little' guys will be able - if they choose - to compete for the test development and processing. The test scoring machine makers get to find something else to do - - - -

Hope you're doing well, Cat!

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@jerryeads @Wascatlady Don't have a lot of use for Pearson, either!


Don't get me start on what the test scoring machine makers can do! LOL

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

Based on this, the state of Georgia owes a refund to the taxpayers for the YEARS of problems with the CRCT!  Pay up!


Oh, and this company should be dumped immediately, not given second chances!

Looking4truth
Looking4truth

Something with glitches that affect teacher evals and student promotion should not be tolerated.  They should be fired - not given a second chance to do more of the same on their dime.  (Yes, I know the tests won't be used for these purposes this year.  Perfection is difficult.  Yet, when a company is getting this kind of money for a service, it should be as flawless as possible.)

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@popacorn @Looking4truth These weren't "educators."  They are part of the "well-run" business sector that some on here are saying education should be run like.

popacorn
popacorn

Glitches will be corrected. Will all the blaming, cheating, and incompetence? 

Astropig
Astropig

I'm liking Superintendent Woods more and more. He showed real leadership here.

Kvinnan2
Kvinnan2

 "The interruptions were sporadic and scattered across the state, affecting a relatively small number of students."

Something to keep in mind as some among us again attempt to make the testing seem far more glitch ridden than it actually was.