The Maryland State Department of Education told the Baltimore Sun that school officials know of 27 students who took the High School Assessment in government in May 2014 and failed the exam only because of a computer glitch. They’re looking into the problem.
Students who left the first question blank for some reason—perhaps because they didn’t know the answer, perhaps because they didn’t feel like answering it, or for some other reason only they know—threw the computer program that scores the bubble sheets off. Then the remaining questions were all marked incorrectly because the answer key in the computer didn’t line up with the bubbles on the students’ answer sheets.
As state education officials look into the matter, they’ll be checking thousands of answer sheets from students who took the HSA in government to determine if they left the first question blank and might have thrown off the scanning program. Double-checking will take some time and extra work, but everyone would agree it’s worth it.
Sandy Summers, whose son is an exemplary student and was one of the 27 who failed the HSA government test, brought the matter to the attention of school officials and said, even though the matter is being looked into, that they treated her as if she were a “nuisance.”
“I think that’s great,” she was quoted as saying to describe the resolution of the matter. “But they should make an attempt to be more transparent. Without an A-student and a parent breathing down their necks, this may not have been uncovered.”
Hats off to Ms Summers and egg on the face of state officials who treated her in such a way that made her feel like she didn’t know what she was talking about.
The HSA in government is one of the tests that can be used to fulfill requirements from the state for high school graduation, although students can receive a diploma in some situations that don’t include passing the government test. Still, telling an A student he failed the test is a mistake that requires not only a repair but also an apology.