1. Education

Florida's testing failures: let us count the ways

The debut of new standardized computer testing in Florida has proved anything but standard for the state's eighth, ninth and tenth graders, including these ninth graders at Land O'Lakes High School. [Pasco County School District]
Published May 20, 2015

This week brought news of more trouble with Florida's school testing system. It's been a familiar refrain this spring: Students across the state sit down to take a computerized test mandated by law, and they can't log on. Or they can, but then they get logged off. Or something else goes wrong and the tests are tossed. Most of the issues have been blamed on the state's testing vendor or cyber attacks, adding fuel to critics who say the state rushed into a new system. And all the technical problems come amid philosophical objections to the testing, which parents and local school district leaders say put undue stress on students and assess little more than their ability to take a test.

Here follows a list of highlights — or, more to the point, low lights — of Florida's testing flops.

March 2: The first big fail. Thousands of eighth-, ninth- and tenth-graders attempting to log in at the same time for writing exams appeared to overload the system.

March 3: The fixes didn't help much.

April 13: Testing went smoothly for a change. Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco officials said their schools had experienced only small, localized interruptions, such as an unexpected fire alarm, as children took their FSA math and language arts tests.

April 21: The second big fail. Cue the we-told-you-sos.

May 13: And the third. Some 600,000 students ready to show their chops in civics, biology and history were stymied.

Monday: By contrast, 800 students having their math tests invalidated seems minor. The culprit this time was incorrect calculators being distributed by test proctors.

For all the latest on testing, plus other local and state education news, follow our Gradebook blog.


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