- Associated Press - Monday, March 7, 2016

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - Students across North Dakota will soon take the state’s new standardized test for the second time, and education officials expect this round to go smoother, compared with the technical glitches that caused delays at some schools last year.

On March 15, students can begin testing, though schools may opt to administer the test later in the spring, the Bismarck Tribune (https://bit.ly/1R2NVra ) reported. Students once again will take the Smarter Balanced math and English assessments on computers.

Last spring, the test was plagued by technological problems caused by inefficiency in the test’s code, according to Greg Gallagher, director of assessments for the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction.

State School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler said a different version of the code will be used to run this year’s online test.

“We decided to go with a proprietary code that was stable and proven,” she said. “Our No. 1 priority was to provide our students with a better testing experience.”

The code was used successfully last year in states such as California, South Dakota, Washington and Idaho.

Although this year’s code will be different, the test will look similar on the screen, Gallagher said.

“It will have a common touch and feel,” he said.

Officials also will be prepared to troubleshoot should problems arise when students begin testing.

Local administrators are hopeful that the changes implemented by the state to improve the testing experience will ensure the students won’t encounter widespread problems again.

“We should be a lot happier this year than we were last year,” said Ryan Townsend, director of curriculum, instruction, assessment and teacher development for Bismarck Public Schools.

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, https://www.bismarcktribune.com

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