An error by the vendor for Ohio’s standardized tests meant that thousands of high school students incorrectly scored zeroes on their English essays.
All of the approximately 5,300 exams for English Language Arts I and II have been re-scored by the American Institutes for Research, according to Brittany Halpin, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Education. The error affected fewer than 6 percent of the 90,000 English exams taken by Ohio high school students last fall.
A handful of students in the northern Summit County public schools were impacted. The high school principals at Twinsburg High School and Hudson High School reported there were no students affected by the testing error.
Casey Wright, principal at Nordonia High School, said three students had their tests impacted: two juniors, who had still passed the testing requirements so their status had not changed, and a senior whose test improved and met the testing requirement for graduation this year.
Only three scores were impacted in Tallmadge, said High School Principal Mike Householder.
Six students total were impacted in Cuyahoga Falls, said Julie Dudones, coordinator of 7-12+ curriculum and coordinator of gifted services.
"In our district, we had six students out of 150 who were affected by this change in scores for this fall’s end-of-course exams," Dudones said. "Four students earned a higher score on ELA 2 after the re-score and two students earned a higher score on ELA 1 after the re-score."
As Jon Cohen, AIR’s president of assessment, explained in February, when too much of a student’s essay is copied directly from the provided reading passage on the exam, the computer flags it and flunks it because there isn’t enough original work to grade. AIR programs into its computer the required percentage that must be a student’s own words for the essay to earn points.
For Ohio, that’s at least 30 percent original, Halpin said. But the AIR staff accidentally typed in 50 percent. She emphasized in an email that this was a human error, not a computer error.
"We are very disappointed that AIR did not have appropriate quality-control checks in place to catch this issue early in the scoring process," Halpin said in an email. "We are working closely with them to ensure that proper checks are in place going forward."
Reporter April Helms contributed to this article