STAAR testing temporarily suspended due to statewide technical issues

Thousands of students across Texas were affected by a statewide issue with the STAAR test that prevented them from taking the test.

The outage affected fourth grade writing and seventh grade writing and English assessments. The technical issue allowed only some students access to the online test, while others were able to successfully log in but then were soon logged out.

The Texas Education Agency suspended online testing for those affected while the test vendor works out the issues. Many school districts say they’re waiting on TEA guidance to find out what are the next steps.

Parents at Mesquite ISD got an automated message Tuesday morning, the first day of STAAR exams, notifying them of issues.

"Parents or guardians of ELA students who came to campus to test today may pick up those students as soon as possible," the message said.

To ensure test security, the state required remote learning students to take the computerized test in-person. Those students reported trouble logging in, slow response times or weren’t able to finish the test online.

The issue affected thousands of students across the state.

"First time out, here we go and they’re already having issues where they’re having to stop the testing for the day," said Rena Honea, president, Alliance AFT.

Alliance AFT, which represents Dallas ISD teachers, advocated for the state to skip STAAR testing again this year. The state-mandated STAAR tests were canceled last year because of the coronavirus.

"The technology issues alone have been astronomical, even though everybody’s doing the very best they can, it’s just unbelievable the amount of pressure that has been added where it was really unnecessary.

Dallas ISD says students who were able to stay logged on were allowed to finish the test. The district is not sure how many students were disrupted.

Fort Worth ISD says about 19,000 students were scheduled to take STAAR testing online and about half may have been affected.

Students taking the exam by pencil and paper were allowed to complete the test as scheduled.

The Texas Education Agency is still trying to figure out the scope of the issue and how many students were affected - but says what happened today was unacceptable.

"ETS, the testing vendor, experienced problems with their database system, which are in the process of being corrected. The 2021 online administration of STAAR will be ETS’s last for the State of Texas."

Starting next school year, a different company will be taking over online testing for the state as previously planned.

The TEA says all online testing is scheduled to resume Wednesday.