AUSTIN -- The Texas Education Agency on Thursday announced its response to online testing issues that occurred during the April and May STAAR testing:

1) Test results impacted by the glitches will be taken into account in this year's campus and district accountability ratings

2) State passing requirements for fifth and eighth grade students impacted by the testing issues will be waived

3) Damages in the amount of $100,000 will be assessed against Education Testing Service, or ETS (the company behind the statewide delivery and administration of the STAAR exams)

“As we continue to build upon our online platform to provide greater support to students, we cannot allow technical disruptions during testing,” said Education Commissioner Morath. “We are committed to providing a positive assessment experience for our districts and students.”

Commissioner Morath notified school districts and charters in May that the TEA will exclude the results of the STAAR test for students directly affected by the testing issues. However, he said that if including the results from either the April or May test administration would positively benefit a rating, that district or campus will receive the higher rating.

Morath also announced that fifth- and eight-graders affected by the testing issues who did not perform satisfactorily on the May assessment will not be required to retest in June. The TEA will also be waiving the requirement for grade placement committees based on results from the affected test for the 2017-18 school year. Instead, districts will be allowed to use local discretion and available academic information to make appropriate decisions for these students.

The TEA said that a total of 41,702 students were testing online in the April STAAR test. On that day, connection issues disrupted testing for about 20 minutes, though some districts may have been impacted for up to three hours. Of the 278,434 tested students served in special education across the state, 14,673 were testing online during this specific disruption.

During the May testing, the TEA said 29,307 students encountered a slowed connection of about 90 minutes. Of the 278,434 students, 4,594 were testing online during the disruption.

Morath said the TEA has notified ETS that the agency will be assessing the liquidated damages in the amount of $100,000 to address both incidents, an amount that represents the maximum allowable in a contract with the ETS.

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The TEA will be working to move forward with plans to rebid both assessment contracts with the ETS and Pearson, prioritizing and focusing on the online testing experience and functionality of the assessment.

“TEA is committed to taking a more focused look at how we develop our online assessment program,” said Commissioner Morath in his May 23 letter to school districts and charters. “It is important that we provide students with learning opportunities that will prepare them for the ever-growing technologies they will face in their future academic and work experiences.”

To see the full letter, click here.