School testing delayed after cable sliced

Students statewide were unable to start the Alaska Measures of Progress and Alaska Alternate assessments Tuesday, the first day scheduled for this year’s round of testing.

A construction vehicle at the University of Kansas, which houses the testing vendor, the Achievement and Assessment Institute, drove over and sliced a fiber optic cable, shutting down the Internet across campus and cutting off Alaska’s access to the test servers.

“It was just a complete unknown that something of this magnitude would happen,” said Elizabeth Davis, Standards Implementation Administrator for the Department of Education and Early Development. “It was something we couldn’t plan for.”

Davis said the state had experiences to take from the first round of testing, such as an entire village losing Internet or getting the flu for example, and contingency plans designed to address similar situations, but her department and the vendor, “they were floored,” she said.

So far, the expected delays are minimal.

The department of education is asking that all of Alaska’s 54 public school districts wait until today to resume testing, although the cable was expected be repaired by sometime Wednesday, Davis said. The state and vendor want to run tests on the systems to make sure there will be no residual issues following the unexpected shutdown, she said.