Glitch in the system

Statewide EOC shutdown

On+April+6%2C+students+experienced+a+glitch+in+the+state%27s+EOC+test.+All+E1+testers+will+report+to+their+testing+locations+to+complete+the+English+I+EOC+on+Thursday%2C+April+8.+

Photo by Allyson Smith

On April 6, students experienced a glitch in the state’s EOC test. All E1 testers will report to their testing locations to complete the English I EOC on Thursday, April 8.

Story by Cate Rounds and Doug Kyles

The day began according to schedule. Students ready to take their end of course exams arrived precisely on time to their testing locations. They perform the tedious task of filling out the same personal information they fill out on every other standardized test: names, dates of birth, addresses, etc.

With a focused mind and steady hands, the students were ready for this exam. However, at 9 a.m., the Education Testing System (ETS) that administers Texas standardized testing suffered a glitch that caused the entire exam system to shut down. Despite the unexpected circumstances, students will continue with the English I EOC this week.

All E1 testers will report to their testing locations to complete the English I EOC on Thursday, April 8. Makeups will still be held on Friday, April 9. The English II EOC will be held next week on Thursday, April 15, which is the designated E2 test date within the TEA’s second window for state assessments. Makeups for E2 will be held on Friday, April 16. The testing locations, room relocations, etc., will remain the same.

“This morning we started our English I state testing, and at about 9 a.m., the entire ETS system started shutting down,” Assistant Principal Charlotte Leon said. “Students were being kicked out of their tests. When we looked into it, it turns out it’s not a district problem; it’s across the state server.”

STAAR testing for fourth grade and seventh grade writing as well as the EOC for English 1 were all supposed to occur today before the system shutdown. And with some students having already opened the exam, teachers and students are left wondering how the state will handle this next step.

“TEA has released a statement to superintendents to let them know what’s going on, and what’s the corrective,” Leon said. “As of right now, they are saying that ETS will have their connectivity issues fixed, and that we can resume testing as early as tomorrow.”

This is the first year that Texas EOC’s are virtual. In January, TEA unveiled their plan, directly after signing two four-year contracts totaling $388 million with companies to develop and administer the test. 

It takes more than just picking a date to plan a testing day. Each school must abide by the dates TEA provides along with reorganizing schedules and locations for students and teachers.

“It [can take] a solid three weeks to plan a test day,” Leon said. “I don’t think people realize how much detail goes into trying to identify the students, get through their accommodations, get every party put into appropriate classrooms, have all the materials, and have everything counted and ready. It usually takes almost two or three solid days just to make the relocations and where everybody is going to go.”

The students in the testing rooms were at the center of the crash, and while they were meticulously prepared for their EOCs, they weren’t ready for the situation that ended up happening. 

“Everything that has led up to this point, the confidence of the students, all the work that we’ve put in all year kind of crashed and burned today,” English teacher Holly Mooneyham said. “A few students were like ‘Mrs. Mooneyham, even if we do get started today, there’s no way I’m going to be able to focus.’ I totally get it because at that point, I don’t know if I could have focused. I’m glad the school finally called it, because we could not provide the students with what they needed.”