Kentucky Department of Education officials say they want the ACT testing company to run practice tests in the fall to ensure there won’t be similar technical issues experienced this spring.
In May, the ACT and other testing companies nationwide experienced technical problems while thousands of students tried access their tests online. KDE officials say this needs to be addressed as more schools are pushing for online testing.
In 2012, about 36 percent of Kentucky students tested successfully online. This year, 65 percent of schools were planning to test the ACT’s End-of-Course exams online. In the end, KDE estimates 2,000 students were affected, which makes up a small percent of the number of students tested.
Following the technical glitches, the state moved to pencil and paper tests, which Draut says is always an option.
KDE officials met last Thursday with representatives from the ACT.
Associate Commissioner Ken Draut says the testing company must prove to the department that the system has been fixed—and if it can’t the state will likely look for another testing vendor.
KDE wants to run practice tests in the fall to see if ACT can handle the student load, Draut says.
“We actually want to put some students on the system and have them take a test on a certain day at a certain time,” Draut says. “The issue with ACT was a capacity issue. They couldn’t handle all the kids from Alabama, Kentucky and Ohio that were on at one time.”
There are a number of private vendors that could develop an End-of-Course test like the one ACT provides and KDE could still maintain its relationship with ACT to administer the college entrance exam that all juniors take, Draut says.
In Kentucky, End-of-Course exams are taken in certain subjects and can count for as much as 20 percent of a student’s grade. Following the technical problems, KDE allowed districts to determine whether the test would be used at all toward a student’s grade.
KDE officials will meet with ACT representatives this week to discuss the financial implications of the ACT problems.
“We haven’t resolved exactly what type of money we’ll get back from ACT,” Draut says.
KDE pays more than $4 million for the ACT to administer End-of-Course exam.
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