Polk High School and middle schoolers were frustrated this week when the planned FCAT was stymied by a computer glitch which delayed testing for some for several days.
The glitch, according to the district’s computer system guru, Assistant Superintendent Abdu Taguri, was with servers outside the control of the districts. He also said the state Department of Education was investigating how the test operations had failed.
Superintendent of Schools Kathryn LeRoy told the school board at last Tuesday’s work session she was concerned about the impact on school grades.
“I’m concerned is how will they guarantee the scores are calculated and counted accurately,” she said.
Frostproof Middle Senior High School Principal Kyle Windham said local students did not experience any issues.
“We were not affected by the situation,” he said. “ Our testing went very smoothly on that day.”
In nearby Fort Meade, sixth-graders had trouble logging into the FCAT math test, a problem which was solved by having students sign in at different times instead of all at once, according to Principal Amy Hardee.
The school grades can directly impact both teachers and students since teacher ratings are tied to the scores and students, especially high school students, can see their promotions affected if they do not post passing grades.
LeRoy and Taguri both said they would check the state’s database to see that every Polk County student is properly assessed and graded.
The glitch, which meant a delay in testing for some students that could push their FCATs into next week, was tied to off-site servers used by Pearson, the company that administers and scores the tests statewide.
Polk wasn’t the only county affected. According to the DOE, more than 25 other districts also were impacted.
Meanwhile, parents received an email from LeRoy explaining the problem, and advised they would be kept informed of developments.
Early Thursday, the district reported that the problem had been solved, but had not said whether any tests were delayed until next week.
The computer snafu affected sixth- through 10th-grade reading tests and some students had already taken the test before the computer system went haywire. Some students had already completed the tests before the snarl-up at about 9:30 a.m.
The glitch was reported after a second sitting of students had started the test, but were unable to complete it due to the server problem. Students who couldn’t finish the test were sent back to classrooms to resume their scheduled classes, LeRoy told the school board.
Florida has been transitioning toward computer-based testing over the last several years, and state education officials are scheduled to implement a new exam from the American Institutes of Research in 2015.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)