Hundreds of third-grade math tests that were given Thursday across the state were missing pages of New York State assessment questions because of a printing mistake.
“Some questions are missing,” acknowledged state Education Department spokesman Tom Dunn. “The error only appears on only one of the four forms of the test and only in a limited number of schools.”
The botched standardized tests appear to have affected a number of area school districts, including Buffalo. Erie 1 Board of Cooperative Educational Services reported that their backup supply of third-grade math tests was almost depleted after getting calls from Clarence, Hamburg and a few Buffalo charter schools.
Dunn said the state is trying to determine whether Western New York was the primary region affected or if there were problems in other districts across the state.
Teachers and other sources have indicated that affected districts also include schools in Williamsville, Springville-Griffith, Frontier, Orchard Park and West Seneca, although that list could grow.
Roughly 10 elementary schools in the Buffalo School District were also affected, administrators said.
The missing questions have left a number of area school districts scrambling to make copies of the missing questions or find other versions of the third-grade math assessment tests to give their students.
“This has never happened before,” said Buffalo Assistant Superintendent Genelle E. Morris, who has worked in the district’s Office of Shared Accountability for the last seven years. The printing error appears limited to one of four versions of the third-grade math assessments, called Form D.
Different versions of the test were created to give test-makers the opportunity to try out a variety of “field questions” that don’t count as part of the exam but might be used in future exams.
According to teachers, it appears that at least eight questions were missing from these Form D assessments. Dunn said the state is still working to determine the scope of the problem. Although 55,000 Form D tests were printed and distributed, only some of the Form D tests were affected by the printing error.
School districts that have discovered the error were given three options to address the issue, Dunn said. They include having teachers use one of the other three versions of the third-grade tests, having schools make photocopies of the missing pages and passing them out with the Form D exam book, or having students who took the misprinted test answer the questions the questions that were missing Thursday during makeup days next week.
It appears that area schools are taking advantage of all three options.
Carol Barber, deputy superintendent at Erie 1 BOCES, said she became aware of the problem by midmorning. BOCES serves as the regional center to store extra copies of state assessment tests whenever they are administered.
BOCES had 280 extra third-grade math tests to distribute to schools that were short of them. As a result of the printing error, BOCES wound up distributing 235 replacement tests to schools in Clarence and Hamburg, as well as Westminster Community Charter School and King Center Charter School, Barber said.
The Frontier Central School District also asked BOCES for additional copies, but Barber said it didn’t have enough exam booklets left to assist that district and referred the district to the state.
BOCES also received a call from Buffalo United Charter Academy, she said, but it turned out that school had some versions of the Form D exam that were complete. They were able to photocopy the questions that were missing from some booklets and distribute them to students who didn’t have them.
In Buffalo, Morris said she started getting calls at about 8 a.m. Although the Central Office, like BOCES, keeps additional copies of the tests, the district had only 200 reserve copies.
“We quickly depleted those,” she said.
Only three of the elementary schools received new exam copies, Morris said. All other schools either administered the exams with some photocopied pages or had their students finish the incomplete exams.
Children who finished incomplete exams will make up the missing questions Monday, she said.
The Orchard Park Central School District is also having some third-graders complete the math exam next week.