This belongs in the you-can’t-make-this-stuff-up category.


(Damian Dovarganes/AP)

Students across Florida were supposed to spend Monday taking computer-based standardized exams — high school students, end-of-course tests; kids in Grades 5-10, the math portion of the new high-stakes Florida Standards Assessment.

The writing portion of the FSA was given last month, an effort fraught with computer crashes and other difficulties that forced many schools to delay. Given the problems that took place in March, you would think that the testing contractor would take every possible step to ensure a trouble-free test administration this time around. Nope.

When kids sat at computers to take the test, they couldn’t even log into the exams. The server crashed. How could this happen? State Education Commissioner Pam Stewart is blaming the contractor, the American Institutes for Research. She issued this statement:

This morning, AIR’s President of Assessment notified me of a technical change that was made to the Florida Standards Assessment testing system over the weekend that was not approved by the Department. This change was unnecessary to the administration of the Florida Standards Assessment and resulted in a disruption that hindered students from being able to log in to the system and take their test today.

We have confirmed that the login issue has been resolved and students are currently testing; we will continue monitoring the situation. The company’s failure to follow protocol is absolutely unacceptable and the Department will hold AIR accountable for the disruption they have caused to our state’s students, teachers and school staff.

The Miami Herald reported that some of the problems during the March testing were caused by a system update by AIR.

Though Stewart said students were able to take the test later in the day, some districts, such as Miami-Dade, cancelled it for the day. Its superintendent, Alberto Carvalho, who was critical of last month’s technological districts, tweeted about Monday’s trouble.

(Correction: The writing portion of the FSA was given last month, not the reading, as an earlier version said.)