How much of a mess is unfolding this week in Florida as public school students take a new computer-administered standardized test called the Florida Standards Assessment? So far, numerous school districts have been forced to delay testing because of major technological problems, two state senators have called for Gov. Rick Scott to suspend testing across the state, and the superintendent of the largest school district in the state and one of the largest in the country, Alberto Carvalho of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, is slamming the test on his Facebook page.
Spring standardized testing started on Monday in Florida and computer problems were immediate in numerous districts — including Miami-Dade, Broward, Lee and Volusia — forcing a suspension of the testing. Florida students were going to take a Common Core test known as the PARCC, but the state withdrew from the Core, created its own standards (which are quite similar to the Core) and purchased another standardized test that is to be used for holding schools, students and teachers “accountable” for student achievement. Things in many places were no better Tuesday.
Here’s what Carvalho’s wrote on his Facebook page:
This is where @MDCPS stands concerning FSA assessments. We continue to put our students, parents and teachers first. This message was shared with principals this afternoon.
Although M-DCPS did not administer the computer-based FSA ELA/Writing assessments today in grades 8 – 10, other districts in the state did test and experienced difficulties once again.
In light of the fact that the FLDOE has not yet provided districts with assurances on the stability of the testing environment for the computer-based FSA ELA/Writing assessment, M-DCPS will suspend computer-based testing in grades 8 , 9, and 10 again for tomorrow, Wednesday, March 4, 2015.
You will be notified whether testing may commence on Thursday, March 5th.
On Monday he wrote:
With many questions unanswered and with many doubts looming, state writing assessment begins today. Of particular concern, beyond the reliability and validity issues, is the fact that many students with limited exposure to technology will be assessed on a computer for the first time. Was there consideration given to the real possibility that technical skill will influence content mastery results? Nothing short of a reasonable accountability transition, which must include treating this year as a baseline development year, makes sense. Getting it right must trump getting it done.
The Jackson County Floridan wrote that Pam Stewart, the state education commissioner had said that out of 69,177 tests that were started on Monday, 67,745 were completed, but two state senators took issue with the numbers, noting that tens of thousands of students were not even able to log onto their computers. Here’s their letter calling the testing “a disaster” and urging the governor to suspend Florida Standards Assessement testing: