Nebraska throws out results of writing test administered by Minnesota company

  • Article by: Associated Press
  • Updated: July 23, 2014 - 11:00 AM

LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska education officials are throwing out the results of statewide writing tests plagued by technological problems.

The Nebraska Department of Education announced Tuesday it would not publish the scores in the department's annual State of the Schools report, The Lincoln Journal Star ( ) reported.

Eighth- and 11th-graders took an online version of the writing test in February and reported a slew of problems. State officials say at least 1,500 students from 87 districts lost work or were kicked offline during one 40-minute stretch. That's about 3 percent of the district's 44,000 students in those grades. They don't know how many students may have been affected at other times, which is why they decided to throw out the results.

The tests are also given to fourth-graders, but they took them with paper and pencil and didn't face the same problems.

The state contracts with Minnesota-based Data Recognition Corp. to administer the test. Education officials haven't determined if they will pay the $177,000 owed for this year's tests, though the contract has been renewed for next year.

Valorie Foy, director of statewide assessment for the Nebraska Department of Education, said 10 to 12 districts, including Lincoln and Omaha, sent letters detailing problems with the tests. About a third of the state's students are in districts that had issues.

Parents will still get their students' scores, along with an explanation of the problems.

State officials haven't decided whether to send the results to the U.S. Department of Education as required by federal law. They did not send scores last year, although they did provide information on how many students took the test. Foy said she doesn't know what might happen if the district doesn't provide scores for a second year.

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