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TEXARKANA, Texas — Technical issues regarding the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) caused the first day of testing to be canceled for many students statewide.

Fourth-, seventh- and ninth-graders were testing Tuesday morning before districts started experiencing connectivity issues with the STAAR Online Testing Platform.

The Texas Education Agency sent an update out saying the following at approximately 10:19 a.m.:

"If your students have been able to access the test, they should continue testing. If your students have not been able to access the test, they should be dismissed from testing until the issue has been resolved."

The following issues were being experienced by students:

— the student could have successfully submitted the test without disruption;

— the student could have successfully submitted answers but may have noticed unusually slow response times;

— the student could have been prevented from logging in to begin with; or

— the student could have begun to answer questions, but at some point was prevented from continuing, and in this instance, answers were saved every 30 seconds so that these students will be able to pick up where they left off.

The Educational Testing Service helps administer the test, and according to a TEA message, is investigating the issue.

TEA also said ETS will no longer administer statewide testing services after this spring.

"The 2021 online administration of STAAR will be ETS's last for the State of Texas," according to a TEA statement. "We understand the frustration this has caused students, parents, teachers and administrators. What happened today is completely unacceptable. ETS, the testing vendor, experienced problems with their database system, which are in the process of being corrected."

Cambium Assessment is expected to take over those duties starting in the 2021-22 school year.

"This year, TEA asked schools to test online as much as possible in preparation for 100% online next year. So that's what we did," said Matt Fry, Communications Director for the Liberty-Eylau Independent School District. "We purchased devices, upgraded network infrastructure and adjusted student schedules to make it work. This morning students either could not access the online system, or those who were able to access it were logged out after around 15 minutes. We waited around for them to remedy it. At some point mid-morning we were given word that if students could not access the test that they could be dismissed.

Fry said TEA is going to reschedule the test. "But they have not said when or how they expect that to happen," he said. "We hope to get more (information) soon."

STAAR tests typically have a four to five hour time limit, depending on the subject, and testing is scheduled to continue until May 14. During the next test in May, there will be eight grades testing per day.

In response to Tuesday's failures, TEA said this:

"All involved in public education in Texas should expect better than what they have experienced today; we are working to ensure that our students do not experience future testing issues."

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