TALLAHASSEE, Fla - Several Florida school districts, including Collier County, are having trouble administering the state's standardized test because of a computer glitch.
The Florida Department of Education says testing contractor Pearson is having difficulty with a hosting provider causing students problems accessing the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. In an email to superintendents, the department said the issue didn't appear to be statewide.
The server problems began around 9 a.m. as seventh and ninth grade students were taking FCAT reading tests online, but it did not affect all Collier schools, district spokesperson Joe Landon told WINK News.
High schools which began testing early reported no problems and middle schools which began testing after 10 a.m. reported no problems, Landon said.
Pasco, Hernando and Seminole school districts were among those experiencing difficulties on Tuesday.
Seminole County Public Schools spokesman Michael Lawrence said students taking the FCAT reading test in seventh and 10th grades as well as those taking the sixth grade math exam were all unable to access the test. He said some schools may schedule a testing makeup day.
Florida has been transitioning toward computer-based testing over the last several years.
Florida's teachers union issued a statement reacted to the FCAT testing issues. Florida Education Association President Andy Ford says, “Today’s computer problems associated with administering the FCAT test prove yet again that the state is not prepared for such a large undertaking. The state is unbending in its requirements of students, teachers and public schools when it comes to these high stakes tests and unyielding in the punitive impacts they have on students, teachers and schools. But when it comes to administering or grading these tests, problems continue to bubble to the surface with alarming regularity. This should be a teachable moment for The Florida Department of Education as they enter a new era of testing next year: Slow down, make sure every aspect of the testing program works, involve teachers and administrators in this massive undertaking and get it right.”
Executive Director of the Lee County Teacher's Union Donna Mutzenard agrees and says they've had problems since the state began some computer-based testing two years ago. "The whole internet would go down, there weren't, there aren't enough computers in a school which is why we're dragging out testing, FCAT testing going on for 3 weeks. Next year, we don't even know what the test is going to look like, nevermind how its going to work on computer systems because we don't know anything about the test. Some of our more rural districts don't have the infrastructure to carry all that on the internet so they're constantly crashing, we've had crashes here, so it's a huge issue," she says.
She's concerned about next year when all high-stakes testing goes online. She says, "the students get frustrated, they're not going to do as well because of their frustration, beginning next year the teacher's salary is going to be tied to this testing so you have computers that crash, tests that may not come out correctly because of the crashes, students who get frustrated and probalby will just start answering anything and a portion of a teacher's salary is going to be based on this. There's no fairness in it at all."