‘We all have to take some responsibility,’ Glitches put testing on hold for Oklahoma students

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OKLAHOMA CITY - On Monday, more than 8,000 Oklahoma students who were trying to take tests ran into a major glitch in the system.

A system failure impacted students from sixth through twelfth grade, including those taking the "end of instruction" tests before graduation.

Officials say middle and high school students across the state were forced to log off in the middle of the test or before they could even begin.

Teachers say it became such a problem students were unable to complete the exams and, in some cases, even begin their tests.

It's a failure some lawmakers say is unacceptable.

Oklahoma State Superintendent Janet Barresi said, "It is hard to describe how frustrated and angry I am."

Frustration was a word many educators were using to describe Monday's tests.

Jenny Jones, a teacher at Oakdale, said, "We were about to start our sample questions and we got messages asking us to please wait, kids got kicked out of the test."

Officials say the problems lie with CTB McGraw-Hill, the company responsible for the testing.

It is the same company that was in charge of last year's testing, which also crashed during exams.

Oklahoma Rep. Curtis McDaniel, District 1, said, "We spent millions of dollars last year trying to fix this. Obviously, it didn't work."

McDaniel, a former principal, is demanding someone be held responsible.

He said, "We all have to take some responsibility. The legislature for letting it happen. The state department for continuing to push it. The testing company for not producing the product they say they can produce."

Barresi said, "This appears to be 100 percent a failing of CTB and they have admitted that."

Barresi said this was a completely separate issue from last year's glitch but one that never should have happened.

She said, "We will certainly hold this company accountable."

Currently, the state is in a five-year contract with CTB McGraw-Hill for the testing.

However, experts say the multi-million dollar contract between the state and McGraw-Hill has room for action.

According to the state, any interruption in testing will cost the company $15,000 per day and up to 3 percent of the contract amount.

Barresi says it's an unacceptable failure.

She said, "It is an understatement to say I am frustrated with McGraw-Hill. It is an understatement to say I am outraged!"

The state is working to determine how testing will be completed.

Barresi says they may go back to a paper and pencil system if McGraw-Hill cannot get the computer version working.

CTB McGraw-Hill sent the following statement:

"Earlier today, April 21, all of McGraw-Hill Education experienced a network service interruption that impacted all areas of the company as well as some of our customers, including certain schools that administered CTB statewide assessments. The interruptions started at approximately 9am ET and were resolved by approximately 12pm ET. While many students have been testing successfully throughout the morning, we understand that as a result of these issues, the Oklahoma State Department of Education suspended testing for the day for all affected-school districts in Oklahoma.



We have identified the root cause of today's event as an intermittent service interruption in our redundant network addressing service. After confirming that the interruption was not caused by a denial of service attack, we worked with our technology vendor to isolate and correct the troubled network electronics. Although all systems are running as anticipated, we continue to provide enhanced network monitoring and management to ensure the health and stability of the McGraw-Hill Education network. The system has been available and operational since 12pm ET.

We note that today's event is unrelated to the capacity of CTB's IT infrastructure, which has been greatly enhanced since 2013. Over the past year, CTB has increased the capacity of its infrastructure by adding more servers and memory. We also conducted thorough performance testing with both simulated load testing and live traffic to ensure there is enough capacity to handle much heavier testing volumes than are actually expected.

We sincerely regret the inconvenience and disruption that this interruption caused schools today. We will provide any further information as it becomes available."

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