States disagree on whether to release glitchy Common Core test results

After a Common Core testing system overload last year forced many students to end the exams early, states are now deliberating the validity of the scores for those who were able to complete the test.

Steven Senne/AP
Fourth grade math teacher Felicia Connelly, of South Kingstown, R.I., teaches Common Core math techniques during a workshop at a community center in Westerly, R.I., October 19. The Westerly school district is running the workshop for parents to teach them Common Core math so they can help their grade schoolers with their homework.

The first results of new Common Core-aligned standardized tests are in, but widespread computer glitches in a system that facilitated the exams have left some states wondering if scores are valid.

During testing, many students in Nevada, Montana, and North Dakota, among other states, were forced to end the tests early when the computer system adapting questions for difficulty based on student answers became overloaded.

Now, states are considering the release of the test results for those who finished.

Even though seven out of 10 students in Nevada were not able to complete the tests, the state was confident enough to release its results this week. North Dakota had considerably fewer problems during testing, and released the scores last month.

But Montana, on the other hand, is sitting on the results for now even though more than 80 percent of its students were able to take the test. Authorities say they want to wait until the scores are made completely valid.

"It's really important for us to be careful and thoughtful and making sure what we release has context and makes sense for parents and teachers," Emilie Ritter Saunders, spokeswoman for the Montana Office of Public Instruction, told The Associated Press.

Steve Canavero, interim Nevada superintendent, is taking a different approach to the scores.

"We invested a lot of time and a lot of energy. To have it fundamentally fail and not provide any return to the field, I felt was not acceptable," he told AP.

The results honor the hard work of students and teachers, he added, and that districts could make use of the data even if parents don’t appreciate it.

Most US states have adopted Common Core standards and incorporated them into federally mandated standardized tests. Many parents, however, have expressed disapproval over what they see as government overreach into education.

In the past, state protocol had been to scrap the testing data if the process was compromised in any way. However, Wyoming and Kansas were granted waivers in previous years when this had happened, even though all of their students completed the test.

This report contains material from The Associated Press.

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