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      Schools battling computer problems days before state exams

      School districts across Oklahoma are getting ready for crucial exams. For some students, it means passing and moving on to the next grade.

      But districts are reporting big computer problems.
      "I push go and it doesn't go," said El Reno superintendent Craig McVay. "We want that to stop. We want to be done with that. That's a big problem with our people."
      El Reno schools spent over a million dollars buying new computers in December. On Friday, the company the state hired to run the online testing told them those computers were good to go.
      Tuesday, they called back, saying none of the computers were ready. For El Reno, now, it's back to square one, just days before testing is set to begin.
      "Preparing for online testing, it's a perpetual deal, we have someone working on it all the time."
      McVay says the biggest problem is when the computer will suddenly log a student off the computer---in the middle of a test.
      And that frustration isn't just on the school's IT staff.
      "We're hearing parents that have 3rd graders that have to put them on anti-anxiety medicine," said Linda Hampton, president of the Oklahoma Educators Association. "That shouldn't be the purpose of testing."
      The Oklahoma State Department of Education says it's working hard to resolve all issues. In a state-wide computer stress test, of nearly 40,000 concurrent users, 3,000 disruptions plagued the system.
      But the Oklahoma Education Association says it expects more from a company that's getting so much state education money.
      "Testing is a business and I think we have to be very careful when we spend taxpayer's money," Hampton said.
      For a district like El Reno, testing is costing a lot. The brand new computers they bought in December will be outdated in a few years, and process will begin all over again.
      "That's a big strain financially on the district," McVay said.
      McVay says his district will be ready when testing begins.

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