first_img Share Laura IsenseeTeacher Sam Brower leads a class at an alternative learning environment for students who are not taking the state standardized exams this week. Brower said that his lesson tries to teach about discrimination through a Dr. Seuss book.Last spring, computer glitches caused massive problems for students trying to take the state’s standardized exams. Now the company responsible for administering those tests has to pay $20.7 million in fines.The initial price tag on those fines is $5.7 million.But the company Educational Testing Service, or ETS, also has to invest $15 million to prevent future computer problems.“I believe this combination of liquidated damages with an additional financial commitment from ETS reflects the correct balance of accountability for the recent past and safeguards for the future,” said Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath in a statement.The problems with ETS caused thousands of students to lose their answers to online exams. There were also reports that exams got sent to the wrong location and that scores were delayed.The problems were so widespread that the Texas Education Agency told all fifth and eighth graders they didn’t have to pass the test or retake it.Texas students must pass the state exams – known as STAAR – to advance to middle school and high school. Students also have to pass exams in five core subjects in order to earn their high school diploma. Scores factor heavily into school accountability ratings.The fine is a fraction of the total business between Texas and the New Jersey-based testing vendor. ETS won a contract last year worth $280 million to administer Texas exams.last_img read more