Thousands of South Carolina students scrambling to retake ACT after internet problems

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As if taking the ACT isn’t stressful enough, thousands of students across the state and many right here in the Lowcountry are scrambling to re-take the test.

“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 South Carolina Education Superintendent Molly Spearman. “It’s sort of like an automobile,” she added. “If it’s working it’s your best friend. If not, you don’t like it so well.”

A lot of students didn’t like it so well in February when computers were locking while they were trying to take the electronic version of the test. South Carolina has offered an online option for the ACT since 2014.

“We don’t have an exact number, but we know it was state-wide,” Superintendent Spearman said.

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

“I think there were seconds of delays, spinning, and then it kind of popped up,” said R.B. Stall High School Principal Jeremy Carrick. "I think other people had more significant delays or complications than we did.”

Officials with the Charleston County School District said only ten students had to retake the ACT on the emergency test date in March. Berkeley County only offers a written option for the ACT, and Dorchester District Two reported no problems with their online software.

‘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.

The company uses Amazon’s web service to administer the test across the country via the cloud.

“It was a very unfortunate situation over which ACT had no control,” Colby said.

The state superintendent says students will get another chance to take the ACT, but the company that administered the test 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.”

It costs South Carolina taxpayers $2,869,000 to administer the ACT across the state every year. State officials say that number may drop because of the electronic glitches. Negotiations are still ongoing.

June 10th is the last ACT test date of 2017.

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