Monday, January 22, 2018
Education

Pasco schools hit second FCAT snag this week

LAND O'LAKES — Pasco County schools suspended FCAT computerized testing Thursday morning for the second time this week.

This time, the problem was local.

"We are experiencing Internet connectivity issues," assessment director Peggy Jones told school leaders in an email just after 10 a.m. "At this time, suspend testing for the remainder of the day."

District officials had the situation fixed just before 1 p.m., and schools were told they could resume testing if time permitted.

Most elementary schools begin their day at 9:40 a.m., so many of them would not have started testing yet. Middle and high schools start earlier and would have been in the middle of the exams.

Many high schools also have afternoon testing sessions, in addition to the morning round.

The Florida Department of Education gave the district permission for students to return to class even if they had seen some of the FCAT content and pick up where they left off after the issues were resolved.

"We do have permission to extend the testing window, as needed, to allow sufficient time for students to be tested given the circumstances of the week," Jones told principals in a second email just before noon.

Education Department spokesman Joe Follick said the state's FCAT team was meeting and there were "no issues we've heard of" on a statewide level.

That's different from Tuesday, when computerized testing problems plagued 26 school districts across Florida. Education commissioner Pam Stewart blamed the testing provider, Pearson Education, for server troubles that left thousands of students unable to log into the system, or once in, struggling to submit answers.

That situation was resolved for the following day and testing went on unhindered.

The string of disruptions left some Pasco officials with concerns over the impact on outcomes, which can affect student course assignments and teacher evaluations.

"These are high stakes," Pasco district spokeswoman Linda Cobbe said. "If we can't have reliable service, it puts in question the reliability of the results."

The Florida House and Senate continue to debate bills that require school districts to create and implement technology improvement plans. The sides remain separate in budget negotiations over how much money to put toward technology as schools are required to move to digital assessments and materials.

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at [email protected], (813) 909-4614 or on Twitter @jeffsolochek. For more education news visit the Gradebook at tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook.

Comments
USF leaders move to calm fears over consolidation plan

USF leaders move to calm fears over consolidation plan

ST. PETERSBURG — Holding a piece of computer paper and a microphone, the leader of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg began a Friday afternoon forum by repeating the USF administration’s new mantra.He reassured the crowd before him that t...
Published: 01/19/18

Crews Lake thespians overcome the odds

SPRING HILL — It’s 8:30 a.m. — "homeroom" period in school speak — when kids in the Crews Lake Middle School drama club file into an empty chorus room to begin rehearsing under the direction of language arts teacher Kristen Sykora. There’s only 25 m...
Published: 01/19/18
Cuts hit top school leaders as Hillsborough sheds three six-figure salaries

Cuts hit top school leaders as Hillsborough sheds three six-figure salaries

TAMPA — Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins on Friday announced the first in a series of belt-tightening moves that include the elimination of three six-figure positions.Jobs now held by Wynne Tye and Larry Sykes will no longer exis...
Published: 01/19/18
Tampa Bay schools warn parents about flu activity, dangers

Tampa Bay schools warn parents about flu activity, dangers

The Florida Department of Health has reported a sharp increase in flu activity in the last several weeks, prompting area schools to send out letters warning parents about the virus. At least two districts, however, say that flu activity in their scho...
Published: 01/19/18

More than 400 apply to Pasco technical high school

School choice for 2018-19 is in full swing, and district officials said they’ve been pleased with the interest they’ve seen so far.The window for applying to the district’s magnet schools closed Jan. 12, except for applications for the new Wendell Kr...
Published: 01/18/18
Read the report on the fatal FSU frat party: ‘The most intoxicated’ they had ever been

Read the report on the fatal FSU frat party: ‘The most intoxicated’ they had ever been

"On Nov. 3, 2017, the Tallahassee Police Department responded to 1012 Buena Vista Drive … in reference to a death investigation."So begins a charging document in the case of Andrew Coffey, the 20-year-old Florida State University student who was foun...
Published: 01/18/18
In St. Petersburg, skeptics sneer at plan to concentrate USF power in Tampa

In St. Petersburg, skeptics sneer at plan to concentrate USF power in Tampa

In the state capitol on Wednesday, lawmakers breezed through the bullet points of a higher education bill. They skimmed past a hot-button proposal to consolidate the University of South Florida System into a single university without a peep of pushba...
Published: 01/18/18
Lithia Springs Elementary gets kids up with standing desks

Lithia Springs Elementary gets kids up with standing desks

VALRICO — Fifth-grade math teacher Melissa Forsythe walked around her Lithia Springs Elementary School classroom on Tuesday with zeal.She stopped at each station and listened with a big smile on her face as her students told stories about their new s...
Published: 01/17/18
Updated: 01/21/18
Five things to know about teacher pay negotiations in Hillsborough

Five things to know about teacher pay negotiations in Hillsborough

TAMPA — They were hoping to receive between $15 million and $17 million in scheduled pay raises. But the Hillsborough County school district says it can’t afford to give its teachers anywhere near that much, while the teachers say they deserve nothin...
Published: 01/17/18
Updated: 01/18/18
Young Pasco teacher faces cancer with support of students

Young Pasco teacher faces cancer with support of students

NEW PORT RICHEY — At age 28, things were really shaping up for Joel Santos-Gonzalez. Fulfilling his lifelong dream of becoming a teacher, he had just completed his third year at Gulf Middle School."I always liked to talk to people on an intellectual ...
Published: 01/17/18
Updated: 01/18/18