Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bipartisan outrage growing in Florida over Pearson's FCAT flubs

Education leaders from both political parties ramped up criticism of Florida's testing contractor on Friday, with one Board of Education member saying the company should be fired for delays in this year's FCAT scores.

"This is unacceptable. This is unconscionable. This is hurting our students and our teachers," said Akshay Desai, a Board of Education member and Republican fundraiser from St. Petersburg. "I think we as a board, we as a state, we've had enough of them."

The state announced last week that many Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test results will be delayed until the end of June — a month behind schedule — because of problems with Pearson's database technology.

State officials say there are no problems with accuracy. But school districts need the results to schedule students, evaluate teachers and plan classes for the fall.

"I really hate the way the FCAT is used," said Sen. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, a candidate for attorney general who closely follows education issues. "But that said, if you're going to pay a company $254 million, they ought to do it on time."

Pearson's four-year, $254 million contract requires it to pay escalating penalties for late results, rising to $250,000 a day for each set deemed extremely critical. By Friday, the company appeared to owe at least $6.21 million. The contract caps damages at $25 million.

Desai isn't the only one saying fines are not enough. Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, a former Okaloosa County superintendent, said this week the company should be canned. Gelber said Friday the contract "should be in extreme jeopardy" and called on the Board of Education to investigate what went wrong.

He and others are asking why the company was hired, given a history of problems in other states. (Those problems continue. In April, Wyoming officials said that state suffered $9.5 million in damages from a rash of errors with a Pearson-administered exam. Pearson initially offered to settle for $266,000.)

The Florida board, which meets Tuesday in Orlando, is expected to hear from Doug Kubach, president and chief executive of Pearson's testing group.

Asked Friday about calls for Pearson's firing, company spokesman Adam Gaber responded with this statement:

"We understand that Florida educators and students worked very hard to prepare for this year's FCAT, and I can't express enough how deeply we regret the recent issues. We are, however, confident that all 2010 FCAT scores are reliable and accurate, and we remain strongly committed to making this right now and in the future for the citizens of Florida."

Ron Matus can be reached at matus@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8873.

Bipartisan outrage growing in Florida over Pearson's FCAT flubs 06/11/10 [Last modified: Friday, June 11, 2010 10:39pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Can the Bad Boys Mowers Gasparilla Bowl thrive in competitive sports market?

    Business

    ST. PETERSBURG — It's a funky name: the Bad Boys Mowers Gasparilla Bowl. But the new sponsors for the former St. Petersburg Bowl might need more than an eye-catching name to create a thriving, profitable contest.

    NC State head coach Dave Doeren clutches the championship trophy after winning the Bitcoin Bowl at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg in 2014. Bowl organizers are changing the name of the game to the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl.
[

MONICA HERNDON | TIMES]
  2. Dirk Koetter says Bucs used team meeting to discuss social issues

    Bucs

    Four days before their preseason home opener against the Cleveland Browns, which had 12 players not stand for the national anthem prior to their last game, the Bucs used their team meeting to discuss social issues that might have led to that demonstration, coach Dirk Koetter said.

    "The main thing is we have to respect everybody's opinion," Dirk Koetter said, "because everybody is not going to agree." [AP photo]
  3. Rookie tight end Antony Auclair making case to stick with Bucs

    Bucs

    Don't let his modest preseason stats fool you: Antony Auclair, the undrafted rookie tight end from Canada is making a strong case to stick around on the Bucs' 53-man roster this season.

    Bucs tight end Antony Auclair (82) collides with a defender following a catch during training camp. [CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times]
  4. Who is that 'Blacks for Trump' guy standing behind the president at his Phoenix rally

    National

    At a number of political rallies over the last two years, a character calling himself "Michael the Black Man" has appeared in the crowd directly behind Donald Trump, impossible to miss and possibly planted.

    Michael the Black Man, variously known as Michael Symonette, Maurice Woodside and Mikael Israel, holds up a sign as President Donald Trump speaks to a crowd at the Phoenix Convention Center during a rally on Tuesday in Phoenix, Arizona.  [Ralph Freso | Getty Images]
  5. Off-duty Manatee County deputy saves couple from burning car

    Public Safety

    MANATEE COUNTY — Neil and Claudia Cook are lucky to be alive after an off-duty deputy spotted them trapped in their smoking car and rescued them just before it became engulfed in flames on …

    Neil and Claudia Cook were trapped in their smoking car on Sunday when an off-duty deputy kicked out the window, rescuing them just before the car became engulfed in flames. [Courtesy of Manatee County Sheriff's Office]