FCAT testing resumes after technical glitch

School districts reschedule makeup dates

By Erik Sandoval - Reporter, Sheli Muniz - Reporter

SANFORD, Fla. - School districts in Central Florida say the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test resumed Wednesday following technical difficulties with the server the previous day.

On Tuesday, several districts across the state experienced a network glitch with the FCAT testing server, hosted by a company called Pearson. Among the counties affected were Orange, Seminole, Brevard, Marion, Lake and Putnam.

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.

On Wednesday morning, the Pearson status website showed Florida's testing was green-lighted and read "fully operable."

Local 6 has learned Pearson has now hired another networking provider to act as a safety net in case there are additional problems administering the online portion of the FCAT.

"This solution has also been tested and verified overnight," wrote Education Commissioner Pam Stewart in an e-mail to school superintendents. "Pearson has assured the department that this strategy will resolve the issues related to yesterday's interruptions and the system will resume normal functionality."

"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 testing) isn't going to happen."

Seminole County Public Schools 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 on Tuesday in Orange County instead 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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