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Nevada fails to meet federal mandate for Common Core testing

Updated Thursday, June 18, 2015 | 2:02 p.m.

Standardized Common Core testing is over in Nevada, and we have a verdict: It was a complete disaster.

Only 5 percent of students in Clark County were able to take the new Smarter Balanced Assessment this year. Statewide, 30 percent of students took the test.

That’s nowhere near the 95 percent test participation required by the federal government.

The failure of the new test this year was the result of technical problems encountered by schools across the state, especially in Clark County.

Because the test is taken online, the large number of students logging in at one time caused the servers of Measured Progress, the state-contracted testing company, to crash.

The outages prevented so many students from taking the test that the Clark County School District simply stopped testing altogether. After that, testing continued relatively smoothly for the rest of the state.

Normally, the failure of schools and districts to test enough students is grounds for the federal government to withhold funds.

But state Superintendent Dale Erquiaga has communicated the problems to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. And a statement released by the Nevada Department of Education today said no federal funding is expected to be withheld as a result of the problems.

“Nevada schools and educators are not at fault, and they have my sincere gratitude for all the attempts to make the testing work,” Erquiaga said.

The question now is what will happen to Measured Progress, which is also in hot water for similar testing problems in Montana and North Dakota.

Erquiaga has accused Measured Progress of breaching its contract with the state by failing to ensure its systems were strong enough to handle the testing. Measured Progress has denied wrongdoing.

Erquiaga said he continues to pursue possible legal action against the company.

“The Attorney General’s Office continues to support negotiations to recover all or part of the costs of administering these tests and to ensure the vendors are held accountable for this unacceptable situation,” Erquiaga said in the statement.

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