KSL INVESTIGATES

Utah Knew Of RISE Testing Contractor Problems

May 15, 2019, 10:42 PM

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Utah officials knew it’s preferred standardized testing contractor had issues in other states, but that did not disqualify the company from winning a 10-year $44-million contract to run the RISE test.

A KSL Investigation has found Questar and its parent company ETS have had issues in several states for years running online standardized testing programs.

18,429 students had problems taking their tests online starting in late April of this year, KSL learned.

“We’ve got students who are finishing segment one of the test and they’re trying to submit and it says its locked,” said one teacher in April.

The number of students affected has likely grown with RISE glitches occurring on five different days so far.

“This new test doesn’t seem to be working,” said Granite Education Association President Michael McDonough.

Utah isn’t alone.

KSL found a few weeks before Utah’s problems started, similar issued occurred in New York. 6,600 students couldn’t submit tests. The state said Questar’s servers ran out of memory.

Problems also plagued Questar for years in Tennessee.

“There’s zero trust from educators, students, and parents alike,” said Tennessee Education Association President Beth Brown.

“Is it prudent for us to continue with this vendor going forward?” asked Tennessee State Representative Craig Fitzhugh (D), at a legislative panel in 2018.

And in Texas, Questar’s parent company ETS also suffered years of problems, losing answers, server issues, and computer glitches. Texas fined the company $5.7 million and demanded $15 million in fixes. Utah knew this before it awarded the contract to Questar.

But according to Utah State Board of Education Deputy Superintendent Scott Jones, “By all indications everything had been resolved.”

His staff is now figuring out whether Questar will have to pay up for the problems here in Utah.

“It could result in the termination of a contract, or at the very least, we recoup the taxpayers money,” said Jones.

The state can charge Questar up to $50,000 per day for testing outages. Jones said the state built that into the contract in case other states’ problems surfaced here.

“We’re mitigating against risks that we’ve seen or observed in other states,” said Jones.

Questar’s CEO will meet with the State Board of Education on Thursday. The company sent us this statement about the testing problems:

“Questar Assessment Inc. understands the state’s frustration with the administration of the RISE assessments. We are committed to working with a third party evaluator in an effort to determine the impact of systems issues and ensure the validity of Utah data. We remain dedicated to the students, teachers and school districts of Utah, and we take our responsibility to provide accurate and insightful testing results seriously.”

 

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

KSL Investigates

Brenda White cookies...
Matt Gephardt

Gephardt Busts Inflation: Rent prices down nationwide but very high in Utah

All over the country, the cost of rent is finally starting to go down. But that is not the case here in Utah.
24 hours ago
...
Matt Gephardt

Get Gephardt: Cybersecurity experts caution shoppers to take it slow while shopping online

For many of us, Christmastime is magical. For scammers, it’s especially magical. Here's what to beware of when shopping online.
7 days ago
Gephardt makes butter...
Matt Gephardt and Sloan Schrage, KSL TV

Gephardt Busts Inflation: Can you save money by making your own butter?

Prices for groceries are up, but the price we pay for butter is way, way up – to the point it will impact your holiday baking budget.
8 days ago
(KSL TV)...
Matt Gephardt & Sloan Schrage, KSL TV

Packed holiday flights: How SLC Int’l stacks up against US’s largest airports in delays and cancelations

Travelers, brace yourselves: holiday flights will be packed.
8 days ago
Jennifer Steele holding her daughters GPS watch. (KSL-TV)...
Matt Gephardt and Cindy St. Clair, KSL TV

Safety feature or distraction? Debate over kid-tracking watches in the classroom

A mom says it’s about safety. Her school says it’s a distraction. Where is the line when it comes to smartwatches in the classroom? KSL’s Matt Gephardt investigates.
13 days ago
Scammers...
Matt Gephardt

Get Gephardt: Received a package delivery text? Scammers are luring Utahns with fake tracking alerts

Utahns are getting targeted by scammers sending out fake delivery notices.
14 days ago

Sponsored Articles

house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Utah Knew Of RISE Testing Contractor Problems