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Testing deposit

After computer-based standardized state assessments were paused statewide Wednesday due to technical issues, English Language Arts tests will pick back up Thursday for certain grades, the state Education Department said in a news release Thursday.

English tests for fifth grade and eighth grade will be given Thursday. Computer-based assessments are being staggered out to particular grades "to provide a more reliable and successful experience for schools by limiting the number of testers accessing the system at the same time," according to the news release. Paper-based tests will be available to school districts that want them. Most districts started the annual tests for third- through eighth-grades earlier this week, although many reported computer issues on Tuesday.

The contractor for the tests, Questar Assessments Inc., determined the cause of the issues and executed a corrective action plan to handle the difficulties, the education department said Wednesday. Groups from ETS, Questar's parent company, and partner Microsoft Professional Services "independently reviewed and verified Questar’s diagnosis, analysis and action plan" the news release said.

“There is no excuse for the difficulties experienced by schools administering computer-based testing,” State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said in the news release. “We are holding Questar accountable for its failure to deliver the services required in our contract with them. In the past 30 hours, we have worked diligently to fix the system so we can provide a successful experience for all users."

A testing plan for the week of April 8 will be announced by the department Thursday.

"Of the 93,100 total students that started tests on Tuesday, 93 percent of, or 86,500, students that started testing sessions successfully completed and submitted their tests that day. Questar and the Department are working with schools to process the completed but not yet submitted tests for the remaining students. No students will be asked to retake testing sessions," the news release said.

The New York State United Teachers Union, which has repeatedly criticized how the state has dealt with the tests, released a statement Thursday.

"A stop-gap corrective action plan is far from the significant overhauls that must be made to restore any semblance of trust in the state testing system," the news release said. "Computer-based testing must be halted, and not only should Questar be held accountable for this debacle, the state must be as well.”

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