Glitches bubble up once again as Minnesota schools prep for online testing

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A company hired to run the state's online proficiency testing system is proving glitch-prone once again, which could spell trouble for the spring testing season.

State law requires third- through 10th-graders to take the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs) online in English, math and science starting this spring, but school officials who were testing the new system are worried about hiccups they encountered, the Pioneer Press says.

School officials told the newspaper Pearson's online portal used to administer the tests is outdated and not compatible with Apple's Safari Web browsers – something many schools use – unless the browser is put in "unsafe" mode.

There are other compatibility issues with Apple computers that require updating software, according to Pearson's technical support website.

Updating software and changing settings on all computers is easy if the district has an automated system. But many smaller districts in the state don't have that capability and they're forced to design workarounds or manually make changes on every individual computer, the Pioneer Press reports.

Education officials say they are continuing to work with Pearson to resolve issues before the upcoming testing season.

This isn't the first time Minnesota and other states have reported problems with Pearson's testing, and these past problems were known when the Minnesota Department of Education earlier this year signed a three-year, $33.8 million deal with Pearson to oversee the MCAs testing.

The state Department of Education's deal with Pearson came after it ditched a different company – due to testing glitches.

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