Students take standardized tests during distance learning but some school districts run into tech issues

With so many D.C. region schools shifting to online learning, the pandemic has required leaders to rethink how kids will be getting the most out of their education while they are at home.

The Maryland State Education Department requires school districts to administer standardized assessment tests.

The assessment tests are always administered online – even when the students are inside of a school.

Each school district within Maryland administers its own version of a diagnostic test.

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Montgomery County Public Schools are using what’s known as Measure of Academic Progress – or MAP growth assessment.

The test is a fall diagnostic assessment in math and literacy given to students in kindergarten through 12th grade that is designed to inform instruction, recovery and intervention and account for learning loss, as well as determine the present performance levels of students on math and literacy standards.

School districts in Prince George’s and in Frederick Counties don’t use the same version.

A spokesperson for PGCPS said that the school system currently no longer uses MAP testing. The school system will implement MAP Fluency testing for grades K-1 but that won’t begin until October. 

Schools in Frederick County administer Performance Series (made by Scantron) for required math and reading assessments.

With many students learning from home, some parents told FOX 5’s Ayesha Khan Wednesday, that they couldn’t log in for the assessment test, which prompted the tests to be canceled.

None of those parents however were willing to discuss their frustrations on camera or were unavailable. They were, however, discussing their concerns in online parent groups.

As it turns out, the technical issues weren’t through MCPS, but from a third party vendor known as Northwest Evaluation Association or NWES.

Some of the parents who spoke with FOX 5 said that their kids were able to access the assessment without many glitches and were able to complete the first portion of the test.

Meanwhile, some other parents, especially those with kids in Kindergarten said that while they support the need for required assessments, it may not be the time to do it during distance learning.

“To sit down for an hour and a half and take a test is kind of frustrating for a young kid, said Stacey Melendez, a parent in the district.

“Their attention span isn’t always there for that long. I think giving parents options and kids options at this point with the times that we are in is not a bad because your child will catch up.”

“The purpose of the assessment is to understand where your child is and how they are doing whether they are on target or need a little extra support,” said Tina Basalla, who is also a parent in the disctrict.

“I would think that you would want to have your child do the assessment and take it without any parental help without assistance and gauge where your child is at.”

Even though the assessment administrator, NWES has been posting upsets about connectivity outages on their website, a representative in a statement told FOX 5 the following:

“We are actively working on a technology issue with our MAP Growth assessment related to connectivity that is affecting some students, teachers and administrators. The issue is intermittent and many of our school partners have had successful testing sessions this fall. Ensuring our school partners have a positive and smooth testing experience is a top priority. Our engineering and technology teams are quickly working to determine a solution. As part of our effort to solve this issue, we are coordinating with schools on how best to support them.”