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Donna ISD’s STARR Test Issues Resolved

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DONNA – School district leaders are crossing their fingers after issues arose impacting thousands of schools including one in the Rio Grande Valley.

Donna ISD along with others across the Valley completed their first day of STAAR testing.

Last year, around 14,000 students had issues with the STAAR test. Either student’s answers were erased when testing online or schools were given wrong versions of the exam.

Donna ISD superintendent Fernando Castillo said one of the elementary school’s scores went missing.

 “I don’t want to wish that on anybody on any school district,” he said. “To have an outside agency that was not able to produce actual results was very alarming to us.”

The Texas Education Agency’s new testing vendor, Educational Testing Services, misplaced test results from J.P. LeNoir Elementary 3rd to 4th grade reading and math, and 5th grade science.

“It was important, critical because we use those scores to, in essence, create blueprints for the students for the beginning of the school year,” he said. “Based on that, you now your strengths, you know your weaknesses.”

Castillo said the test scores were originally slated to arrive in June.

“So, we didn’t get those scores possibly until the second week in September… It was a long ordeal,” he said.

It had been the first time TEA had used ETS’ services. TEA spokesperson DeEtta Culberston said the agency gave the New Jersey-based company a $20 million fine for the errors.

“They have a better tracking system and a better system for delivering those books and the testing material to the school districts. There have been improvements with their computerized testing programs,” she said.

Culberston said about $15 million of the fine went towards improvements.

Castillo said testing at his school district went smoothly in the first day. He said if a similar issue arises again, they will make a direct call to TEA and their testing vendor.

We reached out to ETS about the case. Tom Ewing, Educational Testing Services corporate spokesperson, sent the following statement:

“ETS is grateful for all the hard work TEA and school district personnel have put in to help us implement the program improvements that will make this year's administrations successful. Our shared mission in Texas is to provide students, educators and parents meaningful information through the best assessments and services possible. We hope the results of our work will tell that story for us.”

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