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Georgia is among handful of states that didn't learn from online testing mistakes

When the state of Tennessee ran into problems this spring in its first year of online testing, its lawmakers did something that Georgia's did not -- they asked what happened in other states that adopted online testing.

The state's Office of Research and Education Accountability produced a nifty color-coded, interactive map to answer that question.

I have shared the map above, but you'll need to go to the OREA site to use the interactive feature and also see detailed tables explaining how states responded to computer snafus and whether they changed testing companies or policy. (A dozen states have changed vendors or are considering changing, some because they have changed their tests.)

The seven states in gray -- Iowa, Kentucky, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania (online testing exists but is optional), South Carolina Wyoming --  don't test online. The 29 states and the District of Columbia in blue had no serious problems in their transition to online testing; The 11 states in yellow had significant problems their first year; the four states in red including Alaska had significant glitches their first and second years.

Most states began to test students online in 2014-2015 and just completed their second round of online testing. It appears the majority learned from their mistakes.

Only Georgia, Alaska, Indiana and Kansas experienced problems both years. (Alabama and Utah are in their third year of online assessments. Tennessee and Texas are in their first.)

On the site, the Tennessee Office of Research and Education Accountability explains how it created the map and assigned the color codes:

OREA made decisions about how to categorize states’ online testing experiences by analyzing news accounts and information from state government education websites. Media reports of states’ experiences with new online assessments varied, with many citing software or server problems, vendor-related issues, and logistical challenges related to the large-scale nature of the tests. In other states, some technical glitches occurred, but assessments overall went well.

OREA confined its review of states’ online testing systems to include only testing required by federal law in order to be able to make state-to-state comparisons. The federally-required tests include English Language Arts and mathematics for grades 3-8 and high school. Many states have conducted online testing in other subject areas


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About the Author

Maureen Downey has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy since the 1990s.