Florida had widespread problems with its FCAT, delivered–or not–by Pearson. Pam Stewart promised to seek damages from Pearson. Remember the bad old days when teachers tested students, graded the tests, and students got immediate feedback. Now state officials trust Pearson more than teachers. Who peddled the idea that all testing should be done online?

Here is a report from FairTest:

National Center for Fair & Open Testing
for further information:
Bob Schaeffer (239) 395-6773
cell (239) 699-0468
for immediate release, Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Today’s technical problems, which disrupted computerized testing in many Florida districts, are far from unusual. Many other states have experienced similar failures, according to the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest), which monitors standardized exams across the country.
Earlier this month, the statewide testing systems in Kansas and Oklahoma both crashed. Last year, technical problems disrupted computerized exams in Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Ohio and Oklahoma. In the recent past, new, automated testing programs collapsed in Oregon and Wyoming, requiring administration of replacement, pencil-and-paper versions.
After root cause investigations, both Wyoming and Oklahoma levied multi-million dollar fines against Pearson, the same testing vendor Florida uses. Wyoming labeled the company in “complete default of the contract” and replaced it. Oklahoma let its contract with Pearson expire.
American Institutes of Research, the company that takes over testing in Florida next year was responsible for computer exam problems in Minnesota in 2013. The firm’s contract was not renewed.
“The reason for so many screw-ups is simple,” explained FairTest Public Education Director Bob Schaeffer. “The technology supporting statewide computerized testing is not ready for prime time.”
Schaeffer continued, “Like many other testing policies, politicians imposed new requirements before systems had been thoroughly developed and beta-tested. There are at least three separate problems. Many schools lack the up-to-date computer equipment and other infrastructure needed to mass administer tests. Large numbers of districts do not have the internet bandwidth to handle the volume. Some testing company servers do not have the capacity the meet the surge of demand from multiple locations logging on simultaneously.”
FairTest supports Florida school superintendents and communities seeking a multi-year moratorium on attaching consequences to the state’s new tests. Schaeffer has lived full-time in southwest Florida for almost 15 years.
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– links to clips documenting computer-testing problems in other states and a detailed chronology of Pearson’s history of testing errors are available on request.