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From the Tampa Bay Times.

Computer problems shut down FCAT testing in Pasco, Hernando and elsewhere

Problems with Florida's annual FCAT test on Tuesday rekindled simmering concerns that the state isn't ready for its next steps toward full computerized testing.

At least a dozen Florida school districts, including Pasco and Hernando, were forced to suspend online testing Tuesday as students had trouble signing in to take the annual exam.

State education officials blamed test provider Pearson Education for the situation, which appeared to be related to the company's servers. Other problems included slowness when students tried to download test questions or submit answers, and a warning screen that students should notify their teacher or proctor.

"This failure is inexcusable," education commissioner Pam Stewart wrote in a letter to Walter Sherwood, president of state services for Pearson.

Pearson has a history of problems with Florida testing as well as elsewhere in the country.  But they keep getting contracts, keep getting richer on public money.   Twice when I taught I had parents who had to hire lawyers to find out why their child failed the FCAT.  I don't think they ever succeeded.  

Here is more about Pearson's long string of problems in Florida.

Company causing late FCAT grades in Florida has history of problems.

This is from 2010, so the powers that be in education have known.

The testing company responsible for the delayed release of this year's FCAT scores has a history of problems — in Florida and across the country. Now, Florida education leaders fear their planned rollout of a new computer-based testing system is in jeopardy because the company, Pearson, is not prepared.

Education Commissioner Eric Smith criticized Pearson in a recent letter for using an "untested" system for computer-based tests that the state plans to use in high schools next year.

The lack of a "proven" system created "unacceptable" problems for schools that tried out the new tests this spring, Smith said.

"The problems experienced by schools have created a lack of confidence in Pearson, our program, and computer-based testing in general. The product seems to be so new and untested that even Pearson staff cannot provide clear and reliable instructions for successful implementation," Smith wrote in his June 4 letter.

Accountability seems to extend only to public school teachers.  

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