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After Cyber Attacks, Kansas Board Votes to Not Report Test Scores

The Kansas State Board of Education voted unanimously yesterday not to report data from state assessments administered for the 2013-14 academic year due to cyber attacks during the testing process, according to the Associated Press. That means, among other things, no school report cards will be generated for the most recent school year based on those math and reading tests.

The problems occurred when Kansas administered new tests this past spring from the Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation (CETE)—previously, the state had planned to give tests from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. Like Smarter Balanced, CETE developed new tests that were aligned to the Common Core State Standards. But two attacks on servers used for administering the CETE tests compromised the testing process. Although Kansas officials aren't clear to what extent students' test results were impacted, the state board ultimately determined that the attacks would signficantly compromise the ability of CETE assessments to produce valid and consistent data. 

Some board members stressed that because the state was in a transition period as it moved to the new CETE tests, the test scores from the 2013-14 school year wouldn't be used to identify schools and districts in need of imporvement, the Lawrence Journal-World reported. But board member John Bacon, the Journal-World reported, said the failure to produce valid results called the center's $4.6 million contract with the state into question: "You need to produce what you said that you would in the contract that we're paying you for. ... This is big stakes. I have expectations, and I think the taxpayers do as well."

So what's next? The U.S. Department of Education will review the Kansas state board's decision and the circumstances surrounding its tests. Under No Child Left Behind, the state must administer annual tests and report data from those tests (the state's current NCLB waiver doesn't get them out of those requirements).

What Kansas is going through, and seeking to do, isn't without precedent. Wyoming received a waiver from the federal department from accountability requirements for the 2009-10 school year based on test scores, because of problems administering its assessment. As a result, the Center for Education Policy reported, schools were allowed to keep the same designations (based on annual yearly progress) that they had in the previous school year. 

Online testing problems have cropped up in various states over the last several months, including Oklahoma, Indiana, and Nebraska

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