Carroll, Trimble switch to paper testing
Tuesday, May 07, 2013 11:00 AM
Students in Kentucky need to sharpen their No. 2 pencils and make their marks heavy and dark as end-of-course testing goes "old school" because of problems with online testing.
Carroll and Trimble county school districts joined other school districts across the state in switching to paper and pencil tests instead of online testing because of issues with the American College Test's online testing system. The Kentucky Department of Education announced the decision to switch from online testing following reports of slow connections and sometimes dropped connections from the ACT Vantage testing system.
The switch caused testing to be delayed this week at Carroll County High School, the school's instructional coach Valerie Washburn said. The school plans to test next week after paper and pencil testing materials arrive.
"We were set to do all four EOCs online," she said.
The school planned to test four days this week with one test taken online each morning. With the move to paper and pencil testing, students will be tested next week for two days with two tests each day.
"We expect to have them by the end of the week," Washburn said of the tests. Carroll County Schools will receive a priority shipment of testing materials because of the district's last instructional day before summer vacation.
The school used the end-of-course online testing last year through ACT last year without any issues.
"To my knowledge, EOC went off without a problem (last year)," she said. "It's all on ACT's end."
Trimble County Schools also planned to use online testing, Superintendent Marcia Dunaway said, but the switch to paper won't cause much a delay in testing for the district.
Instructional Supervisor Rebecca Moore said the district had planned a "hybrid" testing system this year for the end-of-course assessments.
"Some of (the students) were testing with paper and pencils, while others were testing online," Moore said.
This was the first year Trimble County Schools planned to have students utilize the online testing. When ordering testing material this year, Moore chose to be proactive in case the online testing issues from last week continued.
"I ordered extra copies," she said. "The impact for us will be relatively small."
The state suspended online testing last week after issues were reported by nearly 25 school districts trying to test students in English II, algebra II, biology and U.S. history. Issues with ACT testing also affected students in Alabama and Ohio.
On Thursday, a day after the issues were reported, ACT announced plans to have online testing begin again on Monday. Yet late Friday afternoon, ACT advised the Department of Education that computer-based testing would not be able to resume on Monday, but the company planned to have online testing ready on Tuesday, the release said.
"While ACT is attempting to re-open the online system as soon as possible, KDE believes stabilization of the end-of-course assessment program is not the priority. So, we are going with paper and pencil tests, which many of our districts had already planned to use," KDE's Office of Assessment and Accountability Associate Commissioner Ken Draut said in a press release. "KDE recognizes the continued frustration the EOC online testing system has caused for participating schools. Moving to paper and pencil tests should minimize further disruption to test schedules and test results."
Washburn and Moore said the switch to paper and pencil testing will cause school district to wait longer for results. Online testing could have provided immediate feedback to school districts.
High schools use the end-of-course assessments for accountability, and KDE had recommended that the testing results make up 20 percent or more of a student's final grade for the class. The state department agreed to waive the requirement for this school year because of testing issues.