A number of technical issues have caused districts across the state of Florida to temporarily pause the online portion of new standardized tests the state began using this week.
Students in grades 8-10 began to report problems being able to log into the writing portion of the exam, causing education officials from 36 out of the 67 districts to cancel testing for the day. Testing has not started again since then, and it is unclear when it will resume. A number of problems were reported, including not being to log on at all and being booted off halfway through the test.
“It’s a nightmare,” said Broward School Board member Nora Rupert, adding the transition to the new tests “should have been slowed down.”
The new tests, the Florida Standards Assessment, are meant to replace the math, reading and writing portions of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test and will be taken almost completely online. The younger grades will continue to take the exam using paper and pencil, writes Angel Streeter for The Sun Sentinel.
The major issue was that the system went down when only a small number of students were set to take the exam. Schools have a two-week window to complete the exam.
“I think this is a clear message and wake-up call for the Legislature to consider proposals that are on the table to extend the implementation period,” said Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie.
While test scores are used to determine whether third-graders can move up a grade or if high school students can graduate, lawmakers are currently considering bills that would detach the high stakes associated with the tests for two years. Results are also used to consider school grades and teacher evaluations. The state has already announced that schools who report low test scores will not be faced with consequences this year.
While the state did ask schools to perform trial runs of the testing, each district ran the trial at separate times, which could have caused the state to believe the testing portal was capable of handling more students than it could.
“I’m sure the system is overwhelmed,” said Debra Robinson, a Palm Beach school board member. “All of a sudden hundreds of thousands of students are trying to get on at the same time. That’s one more reason we need to back off of this.”
The Education Department is currently investigating the issue and will “work to immediately resolve it,” according to spokeswoman Meghan Collins. She went on to say that schools have more than two weeks to complete the exams, which leaves ample time for students who had been unable to finish the test on Monday to complete it.
“This is a 90-minute test; students have a two-week window, plus a makeup window, to complete the test,” Collins said in an email.