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Glitch affecting state ELA tests inexcusable, says education commissioner

New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia says the company which manages the state's ELA testing software has explained why there were computer glitches during testing on Tuesday. According to Elia, the vendor, Questar, blames the problem on its server losing all free memory due to the number of test transactions that were being processed.

"There is no excuse for the difficulties experienced by schools administering the computer-based testing. We're holding Questar accountable for its failure to deliver the services required in our contract with them. In the past 30 hours, we have worked diligently to get the testing system fixed, so that we can provide a successful experience for all users," Elia said in a conference call Wednesday.

Testing for grades 5 and 8 will resume Thursday. No students who were affected by the glitches will be asked to retake testing sessions.

Lisa Hudley of the Allies For Public Education says the computer issue is just one of many problems her group has with standardized testing.

“The amount of debacles that we have seen from our state education department is very upsetting to parents, and I just want to say that we are empowering parents across the state to stand up for their children’s rights and to speak to districts that are actually taking Commissioner Elia’s lead in creating intimidation for these students take these tests,” Hudley said.

Questar is sending staffers to assist schools around the state who experienced technical problems in administering the test. Despite the glitches, they say more than 80,000 students were able to finish and submit their assessments.

Elia says state education officials are reviewing their contract with Questar.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
Ryan Zunner joined WBFO in the summer of 2018 as an intern, before working his way up to reporter the following summer.