ACT Glitch Sends Students Scrambling, Many Must Retake Test

May 19, 2017, 11:07 am EST | Share:

CHARLESTON, SC (BRODIE HART, WTAT-TV) — Standardize testing can be stressful for students, but now a glitch in the software used in February’s ACT testing has made it even more stressful and now students are scrambling to retake the test before summer.

For State Superintendent Molly Spearman, comparisons the best way to describe a major issue in this year’s electronic ACT testing.

“It’s sort of like your automobile,” she said. “If it’s working it’s your best friend. If not, you don’t like it so well.”

It wasn’t working at all for thousands of students across South Carolina when their computers locked up while taking the ACT.

“Unfortunately, the testing company had a major flaw that day and there were a lot of students who weren’t able to complete the test,” said Spearman.

R.B. Stall High School Principal Jeremy Carrick says the issues slowed some of his students down. “I think there were seconds of delays, like spinning, and then it kind of popped up,” he explained.

State education officials say problems ranged from slow loading test questions to problems with just submitting answers.

Principal Carrick says his students only had minor issues. “It was not really an issue for us, but I think other people had more significant delays or complications with the online testing than we did.”

Officials say the ACT help desk was not properly staffed and administrators were unable to provide tech support answers. But when we talked to the ACT company itself, they blamed something else.

“Those issues were primarily related to an Amazon web service outage that impacted many companies across the U.S. on that day,” said Ed Colby, Director of Public Relations for ACT Incorporated. “It was a very unfortunate situation over which ACT had no control.”

Superintendent Spearman says students that need to retake the test will get that chance. But the company that is administering it electronically, may not.

“We’ve got to get it right, and we’re negotiating with the company right now to make sure they get it right next year.”