Las Vegas Sun

May 12, 2021

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Nevada postponing school rankings after repeated testing glitches

magnet school

L.E. Baskow

CCSD’s magnet programs allow K-12 students to take in-depth classes in such professional fields as engineering, hospitality and law.

Education officials voted today to postpone the state’s school ranking system until next year.

Members of the state Board of Education agreed it wouldn’t be fair to hold schools accountable for problems caused by server issues with Measured Progress, the state-contracted testing company.

Instead, the board decided that the star ratings given to schools last year under the Nevada School Performance Framework will be the same this year.

Many schools, mostly in Clark County, have found it almost impossible to administer the Smarter Balanced Assessment, which produces the raw data used for the rankings.

State officials had planned to put the ranking system on hold anyway because of the difficulty associated with rolling out a brand new assessment, but the ongoing technical glitches made the decision more urgent.

Testing started smoothly in the state March 30 but quickly ran into problems when huge numbers of students in Clark County started taking the test. Officials decided to postpone testing indefinitely.

The decision meant a majority of the state’s students would likely not finish the test, which is required by both state and federal law.

“We simply won’t know if we will collect enough data for this to be a useful enough year,” said department spokeswoman Judy Osgood. “It’s too early to know.”

Smaller school districts around the state have been able to continue testing, but as of today only 15 percent of students who were supposed to be tested have completed the SBAC’s online math test and only 31 percent have completed the online test in reading, according to the Nevada Department of Education.

Meanwhile, the state is currently seeking new contract bids from testing companies. It’s unclear if the state will keep Measured Progress, whose contract expires this year.

“I think it’s premature for anyone to say,” Osgood said.

The state declared the company was not living up to its contract with the state due to the technical problems. Similar technical issues affected Montana and North Dakota, states that also use Measured Progress.

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