From the Florida Time-Union comes word that computer-based testing in Florida is not running smoothly.
Yesterday Duval Public Schools called off testing for the second time this week, and reports are coming in from around the state of students who are staring are at blank screens, just trying to get logged into the testing program. This was the first week of the testing window in Florida, and as more students were added to the load, the system appeared not quite up to the task.
Superintendent Nikolai Vitti is quoted in the article:
Unfortunately, as I expected, with the larger districts joining the
testing process this morning, along with middle schools, the system
imploded. Students across the district saw white, blank
screens when trying to log on. Districts throughout the state are
reporting the same problem. I have directed all schools to cease
Meanwhile, state ed department officials are declaring the testing a success, with Education Commissioner Pam Sewart announcing that she "feels with 100 percent certainty that everything is working as it should." Vitti had a response for that:
If the commissioner believes thousands of students staring at a blank
screen for 30 minutes statewide is successful, then I am afraid that we
have dramatically different levels of expectations for securing a
reliable and valid testing environment.
Florida actually followed Utah out of the testing consortium, using testing materials developed for Utah's test by AIR (the same people that developed the SBA test that Utah dropped out of in the first place). Bottom line: the same people whose test is grinding to a slow crawl in Florida are the people behind the SBAC. So good luck with that.
No word yet on what effect testing gurus think the bollixed roll-out will have on test results. How focused and test-effective is a student who just waited a half hour for the next question to come up?
FWIW, we went down this road in Pennsylvania several years ago. I've always suspected that's why we're one of the few states still sticking with paper and pencil. Of course, that doesn't generate nearly as much revenue for corporations, but no matter how bad our test is, at least our students can actually take it.