Test-takers concerned with new computer-based STAAR

Former glitches and data loss leaves students and staff uneasy with new format

Jaden Garrion, Staff Writer

For the first time ever, students taking the writing portion of the STAAR exam will take the high-stakes test using computers later this month.

Some are worried that this might be a bad idea because last year students who took STAAR exams on computers encountered technical problems that caused some 14,000 students to lose their answers, according to an June 2016 article in Texas Tribune.

last year students who took STAAR exams on computers encountered technical problems that caused some 14,000 students to lose their answers”

— Jaden Garrion

On the other hand some students say they like the idea of taking the writing portion on a computer because they compose better with a keyboard than with a pencil and paper.

But we also have to remember 14,000 tests that were lost last year by the testing company ETS. Hopefully, ETS, the company that administers the STAAR test across the state has worked on these problems so this won’t happen again. Last year the Texas Education Agency ned ETS in August $120,000 because of the botched STAAR administration.

Unfortunately, many students have experienced technical problems with using the laptops stored in the Computers on Wheels (COW) sets across the campus. I myself have had some bad experiences with these computers.

When we took the English Middle of the Year exam the computer glitched during the middle of it and wouldn’t load the questions. I had to exit the browser tab then reopen the test to x the problem.
Just imagine how long it’s going to take for the computers to load up when we need to take our STAAR on the computer. Teachers will have to become tech experts to diagnose computer problems if they occur during the actual STAAR exam.

Recently the administration has told all the teachers the COWS have been reserved for the English teachers until the end of March after the STAAR exam. This is a necessary training time for teachers and students to help them prepare for this new test administration. However, this could take away computer access for teachers of other subjects that could benefit from technology use.

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Friends of mine had told me that they like taking it on the computers because they’d rather type and click on their answers instead of handwriting and circling them.

Teachers are aware about the problems last year, but they are confident that administration will make sure that the situation is under control. Teachers also said while taking the test there will be no spelling or grammar checkers on the computers.