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FSA Server Issue Leaves Students Unable to Take Tests Statewide

April 19, 2015 - 6:00pm

The Florida Department of Education put a pause on standardized testing once again for students statewide after testing servers went down unexpectedly on Monday.

The department told school districts early Monday morning that American Institutes for Research, the testing company responsible for the state's new Florida Standards Assessment test, was having server issues.

Middle and high school students were all scheduled to take the computer-based FSA test on Monday. Students are now taking tests online as opposed to classic paper and pencil tests. That means that without a working server, students can't complete -- or even begin -- the test.

The department told school districts they could resume testing after 10:30 a.m.

"As you are all quite aware, this morning, AIR experienced issues with the login server, which prevented test administrators from starting sessions and students being unable to sign into tests," Victoria Ash, chief of the department assessment bureau, Ash wrote to school districts. "These issues have now been resolved."

However, several school districts statewide canceled testing entirely on Monday.

Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart blamed the problems on an unapproved change to the testing platform made over the weekend.

"The change was not necessary to the administration of the Florida Standards Assessment," she said. "This is unacceptable on the part of AIR. We will hold AIR accountable for the disruption they have caused this state."

The newest problems aren't the only issues the state has had with the test. In March, technical malfunctions left many students unable to complete the FSA test. The department blamed the problem on a cyber attack on AIR's servers.

Monday's technical glitches merely added to the fire of harsh criticisms that Florida has been woefully unprepared for the roll-out of the new assessment test, which is more closely aligned with the state's new Common Core-based education standards.

Twitter exploded Monday, with many users demanding answers.

"Today's #FSA vendor-server failure adds doubt to validity of test results," wrote Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho. "Disruption to & uneven testing environments are unacceptable."

"@FLSenate @FLGovScott [At] what point do you admit FSA is an epic fail and protect children?" wrote Rosemarie Jensen.

This fiasco was caused by politically-drivenassessment policies that ignored multiple warnings from educators,technical experts and parents," said Bob Schaeffer, public education director of the NationalCenter for Fair and Open Testing.

This is a breaking story. Check back for updates.


Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen by email at allison@sunshinestatenews.com or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen

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