DOE Says Testing Problems Caused By Vendor: Leon Schools Suspends Online Testing...Again

Apr 20, 2015

Credit Leon County Schools

Florida Department of Education Commissioner Pam Stewart says school districts can resume scheduled tests. The department is blaming testing administrator the American Institutes for Research, for outages that stopped testing Monday.

In a statement, Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart said AIR made a technical change to its system that resulted in login problems when students tried to start their Florida Standards Assessments. Stewart says the change wasn't approved by DOE and resulted in the disruptions.

“We have confirmed that the login issue has been resolved and students are currently testing; we will continue monitoring the situation. The company’s failure to follow protocol is absolutely unacceptable and the Department will hold AIR accountable for the disruption they have caused to our state’s students, teachers and school staff.”

The problem was similar to those last month, when DOE rolled out the state's new writing exam, and districts across the state reported technical glitches. And critics are now pointing to the latest batch of problems with an "I told you so." Bob Schaeffer with the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, says the state needs to suspend the exams, and the consequences that go along with them.

“No one believed two months ago the Florida legislature would pass a bill and the Governor would sign it that would roll back testing, even modestly. Now, it’s time to take the next step because the current testing system in Florida is a fiasco," he said.

Governor Rick Scott recently signed a law that calls for a review of the new tests before school and district grades are released. Critics say that doesn’t go far enough, and the state should suspend testing all together. The point to similar problems with new exams taking place in other states. According to the National Center for Fair and Open Testing,  Colorado, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, and North Dakota  experienced similar problems with their new tests.

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From the Leon County School District:

Tallahassee—Leon County Schools has suspended testing today, April 20th.

Due to extensive, state wide issues experienced across multiple school districts, Leon County Schools has suspended computer based testing today.

These technical issues include test administrators and students’ inability to access the testing platform.

Along with our colleagues from around the state, we have been in communication with the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) and the American Institute of Research (AIR) regarding these issues.

As we receive updates from FDOE and/or AIR we will determine when Leon County Schools’ students will test.

The state Department of Education says the servers have gone down at the state's testing company, and that's prevented students in grades 5 through 8 from logging on, or being kicked out of the test prematurely. 

Similar technical problems plagued the first round of testing in March, leading school districts across the state to suspend the administration of the state's new writing exam. The flawed first run of the new Florida Standards Assessment added to criticism that the state had rushed the tests. Governor Rick Scott recently signed a new law that will hold school and district grades until the exam is reviewed by an independent panel.

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