EDUCATION

Common Core testing server hits capacity, stopped in Nevada, Montana, North Dakota

A problem with a computer server is stopping Common Core testing in Nevada, Montana and North Dakota after a previous technical issue delayed it last month, officials said.

The three states contract with the New Hampshire-based Measured Progress to administer the tests, which are linked to the hotly disputed federal education standards. The company said in a statement Wednesday that its platform isn't able to support the number of students taking the tests, although server capacity was increased beyond what the tests' creator, Smarter Balanced, said was needed.

It marked the second technical problem Measured Progress has had in recent weeks with the computerized English language arts and math tests. Some students have already taken it, and officials say they are working to resolve the issue. In March, state schools officials had to delay the start of the testing period by up to two weeks because the company reported a problem with software.

North Dakota education officials called it a "single, problematic anomaly" with the delivery system.

But the latest system crash prompted the Montana Office of Public Instruction to go as far as to offer waivers to the mandatory test for this year. State Superintendent Denise Juneau said she expected most schools to move forward and extended the testing period into June.

The schools chief said it's unclear what consequences in terms of federal funding could be handed down to the noncompliant schools. But deciding to opt out this year is an acknowledgement that the delays have caused a lot of problems. Among the headaches: the logistics of scheduling computer lab time to accommodate all 77,000 students required to take it.

"I just don't think Measured Progress was ready for that influx," Juneau said.

In Nevada, limited testing is expected to resume Thursday and Friday, with the disruption expected to be fully resolved by Monday. About 210,000 students in grades 3 through 8 are expected to take the tests by the end of the school year.

The Nevada Department of Education said students in the southern part of the state had trouble logging in to the Smarter Balanced assessments Tuesday and Wednesday before the tests were formally suspended.

Judy Osgood, a state spokeswoman, said Nevada likely hit the server's capacity because Clark County School District started the test on Monday. The nation's fifth-largest school system includes all of the Las Vegas metro area.