A large number of students from a high-performing Texas high school got zeros on their English essays as part of a standardized exam.
This, ironically, comes after the state’s main testing vendor was penalized over glitches with several standardized tests.
The result of 157 English 1 and English 2 tests surprised Lamar Consolidated Independent School District officials, who were confused to have learned that so many students from a school that usually performs better than average had failed.
In the other four high schools from the same district, only 10 or fewer students got zeros on their essays.
"There's definitely something wrong," the district’s Chief Academic Officer Valerie Vogt told reporters.
According to Vogt, a Lamar teacher with experience in grading state English tests took a look at copies of the essays that scored zeros, finding them pretty similar in quality to the ones that scored high grades.
Could the company behind the tests be at fault once again?
The district thinks so.
Officials argue that Educational Testing Service (ETS) is to blame, not the school’s students or teachers.
According to the Texas Education Agency (TEA), the problem is similar to what happened in the Lewisville Independent School District in 2016 when dozens of essays scored zeroes because of a logistical error. The company had to pay a $5.7 million penalty after this incident.
TEA spokesperson DeEtta Culbertson confirmed that the agency and ETS are investigating the incident.
Thankfully, students impacted by this scoring issue did well on their other tests, so this problem will not hurt their chances of graduating. Still, this could mean that the district will lose its standing because of the lower ratings.
On Twitter, the story went viral.
Some people questioned the company’s effectiveness, especially after taxpayers put millions of dollars into it. Others urged officials to look into the tests from low-performing schools as well.
Districts are questioning how 100s of high-performing students scored 0 on their standardized test's essay. Last month, ETS was fined measly $100K after software kicked students out of online tests. What exactly are taxpayers getting for their $280M? #TXedhttps://t.co/ttWk5TxRmu— Kendall Scudder (@KendallScudder) June 8, 2018
Honestly if this had happened to me in high school I would have cried for weeks https://t.co/42D7ATYk0g— Bobby Blanchard ?? (@bobbycblanchard) June 8, 2018
Want to bet that this happened to students in low-performing schools, too, and nobody believed that something had gone wrong?— Madame Hardy (@mme_hardy) June 7, 2018
I think any tests that received a zero should be investigated - from both high and low performing schools. Highly suspicious.— Becky Young (@bayounger) June 8, 2018
It would be truly concerning if all these issues were ignored and the state continued to allow its students to be subjected to this type of inefficiency. After all, if a major mistake can be made, so can a smaller one, and students who would otherwise perform well could end up falling behind because of poor grades.
Banner and thumbnail image credit: Pixabay, giovannacco