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SF Students Have Tech Issues With Common Core Test

May 12, 2014, 5:53 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

SF Students Have Tech Issues With Common Core Test

The spinning cursor - it's a sign that a program on your computer just crashed and it’s an issue Sioux Falls students encountered this spring when they were taking the new Common Core tests.

"I call it the rotating cursor where your computer locks and you can't go front, forward, nor backward," Sioux Falls School District Director of Curriculum Sharon Schueler said.

A report presented to the Sioux Falls school board Monday night lays out the issues students had with the new Smarter Balanced Assessment tests.

The Smarter Balanced Assessment, or SBA, crashed on several students in the Sioux Falls district while they were taking the online testing this spring. The answers were saved but students were forced to log out and then log back in. It’s just one of the issues reported.

One of the biggest issues was that SBA had to delay testing for some schools a week because of undisclosed 'issues' the system was experiencing; it disrupted the schedule of schools that planned to start testing on the first day.

Read the Smarter Balanced Assessment review here

"Our schools and principals, we are very flexible, so they were able to just readjust their schedules and move forward from there," Schueler said.

Republican state Representative Jim Bolin of Canton has been outspoken in his opposition to Common Core but is not too concerned with the technical problems.

"If there are questions as to the technical aspects of the test, I believe those will be solved especially if you're going to be spending as much money as the folks are that are supporting the Smarter Balanced test," Bolin said.

Bolin, however, did sponsor unsuccessful legislation which would have allowed students to opt out of the testing. Sioux Falls officials say about a dozen students were required to take the test this spring despite opposition from their families.

"It might produce better test results but that doesn't mean that we're going to have a better educational situation where students can actually think and come to conclusions as to the fundamental issues," Bolin said.

Sioux Falls district officials also report that students in the lower grades - like third grade-  had trouble typing out extended answers on the test because they lack keyboarding skills. The district has already made the move to start teaching keyboarding classes in third grade.

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