FCAT technical issues plague Central Florida schools

Issues reported in several districts, Department of Education says

By Erik Sandoval - Reporter, Michelle Dendy - Web Editor

SANFORD, Fla. - School districts in Central Florida on Tuesday are experiencing technical difficulties with the server for Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, commonly known as the FCAT, delaying students taking the test.

According to school officials, several districts across the state are experiencing technical issues with the Pearson FCAT testing host server. Among the counties affected are Orange, Seminole, Brevard, Marion, Lake and Putnam counties.

Students at Sanford Middle School were supposed to take the reading, math and science portions of the test, but a district spokesman said when the teachers tried to log onto the computer system, it produced an error message.

Orange County Public Schools said that FCAT testing was suspended for the day, affecting sixth-grade, seventh-grade and ninth-grade Day 2 reading testing, along with 10th-grade reading makeup testing. It has affected 12,000 students, according to officials.

OCPS sent out a recorded message to parents Tuesday advising them that the FCAT had been suspended until the technical issue was resolved.

"A lot of what's been going on with the FCAT has been interesting," said father James Bernard. "It's frustrating because the children are so stressed about it, and they don't need the added stress that (FCAT) isn't going to happen."

The Florida Department of Education advised OCPS on Tuesday that their vendor has assured them they will be ready Wednesday to allow for the resumption of testing.

A statement from Seminole County Schools said that it will be able to determine if the testing will go on Wednesday morning when they start the testing system up.

SCPS said most schools that missed Tuesday's testing will make up the exam on Friday.

The Department of Education said that once the problem is resolved, if schools need more time to complete testing beyond the district schedule, officials can request it in writing.

"We will work to ensure that all students in your district have sufficient opportunity to test," the memo from the Department of Education said.

Students who were scheduled to take the FCAT resumed their normal classroom schedule.

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

Pearson issued a statement on Tuesday, which read:

"Pearson's online testing services for Florida experienced internet traffic disruptions today due to a network issue with our third-party hosting service provider, Savvis. We are 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."

Pearson's internet provider, CenturyLink Technology Solutions, said in a statement that it "experienced an issue with network-related hardware, which caused Pearson to experience a temporary Internet traffic disruption."

"We apologize for this disruption and have resolved the issue impacting Pearson," CenturyLink officials continued. "We are working with Pearson and our hardware vendors to implement a permanent fix."

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