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Online testing goes offline

The Crook County School District, and other districts around Oregon, have had some frustrating news this spring.
   Online testing for students had to be temporarily suspended. Students in third through 10th grade are tested in what is called the Technology Enhanced Student Assessment, or TESA. Their reading, math, problem-solving and science knowledge are measured and there's also a writing sample.
   District educators depend on the testing and accurate results to help drive curriculum and instruction. That reliable information was not to be found after the Oregon Department of Education and the former testing vendor, Vantage Learning, got involved in a contractual battle and the company claimed it had not been paid for its services.
   Now the Crook County School District and others must go back to paper and pencil testing until the online system can be brought back.
   In a state that is desperately trying to improve education for all students, it's unfortunate this has occurred. This is not the district's fault. Instead, wrangling between the ODE and Vantage Learning has meant unreliable testing results for Crook County children.
   After all of the mess, the ODE has contracted with American Institutes for Research (AIR) as its new vendor. We hope that with the vendor change, the online testing problem will be solved, and that the ODE will take every precaution to ensure that this situation doesn't happen again.
   If Oregon is going to improve the state of education, school districts need to be given all the tools possible to make their work easier.
   After all, the only thing depending on it is our students' education.