Several school districts forced to suspend FCAT due to glitch - FOX 35 News Orlando

Several school districts forced to suspend FCAT due to glitch

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SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) - The Florida Department of Education said several school districts, including those in Seminole and Orange counties, had trouble administering the state's standardized test on Tuesday, because of a computer glitch.

Education officials said testing contractor Pearson was having difficulty with a hosting provider, causing students problems when attempting to access the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, or FCAT.  In an email to superintendents, the department said the issue didn't appear to be statewide.

"This failure is inexcusable," said Florida Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart in a letter sent to Pearson.  "Florida's students and teachers work too hard on learning to be distracted by these needless and avoidable technological issues."

Stewart suspended live testing across the state in districts that reported problems, saying she expected an immediate resolution.

"I also intend to pursue all liquidated damages and other remedies that may be available as a result of Pearson's failure to fulfill its duty under the contract with the department," Stewart added.

Seminole County Public Schools spokesman Michael Lawrence said students taking the FCAT reading test in seventh and 10th grades as well as those taking the sixth grade math exam were all unable to access the test.  Some 12,000 students in Orange County experienced problems as well, officials said.

In a statement sent to FOX 35, Pearson acknowledged "internet traffic disruptions" which it said was due to "a network issue with our third-party hosting service provider, Savvis."

Pearson spokesperson Stacy Skelly said they were working closely with Savvis to remedy the situation as soon as possible. 

"Even with the disruption, which did present difficulties for some school districts, many students are testing normally with almost 200,000 tests delivered today," Skelly said.

Officials said extensions to take the FCAT test may be offered if students do not have the allotted time to finish.   A spokesperson with Orange County Public Schools said the Department of Education has advised the district that they could resume testing in that county as early as Wednesday.  Each district will determine its own schedule for retesting, according to a state official.

Florida has been transitioning toward computer-based testing over the last several years.

This is a developing story.  FOX 35 will be checking with other school districts and will pass along any information on the resumption of testing as we learn those details.  Check back for updates.

Some information taken from the Associated Press.

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