North Dakota’s Superintendent of Public Instruction announced Thursday alternative ways schools can complete state testing after a glitch delayed the process again.

In an email to districts, Kirsten Baesler said schools who successfully used a test aligned with new English and math standards could opt for paper-and-pencil form tests or skip an activities and performance task portion if they run out of time.

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Schools are required by law to administer the same test to all third- through eighth-grade students as well as high school juniors. But the fact remains “there have been glitches in the (state testing) process and we are up against the clock to finish testing by the end of the school year,” she wrote.

The delay represents the latest testing snag North Dakota students have experienced in recent weeks. By late March, the start date had already been delayed twice, once because of a “problematic anomaly” in the delivery system.

After the current legislative session ends and state testing is complete, Baesler intends on convening a task force to study testing options, including the ACT, she wrote. North Dakota might be given “more flexibility” in setting its own accountability standards and measurements because of new changes to No Child Left Behind.


Halt to testing

Grand Forks Public Schools halted testing Thursday and Wednesday. The district, along with others in the state, could start testing in late March.

Baesler informed all state districts Wednesday to temporarily stop using state’s Smarter Balanced Assessment if they had trouble accessing and connecting to the test.

On Tuesday, an estimated 20-minute service disruption delivering the online test -- administered by New Hampshire-based vendor Measured Progress -- prevented some students from logging in, according to an email from Greg Gallagher, state assessment director. By then, about 18 percent of tests were completed in North Dakota.

North Dakota was among three states that contract with Measured Progress that paused testing. According to news reports, the number of students taking the test overwhelmed the server.