FCAT Scores Delayed
MIAMI (AP) - Scores on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test
have been delayed more than six weeks because the testing company
hired by the state had problems administering and grading the
exams, a newspaper reported Sunday.
NCS Pearson received a $254 million contract, good through
November 2013, from the Florida Department of Education to
administer and score the exams on paper and pilot the state's new
Memos obtained from the state department of
education and South Florida school districts showed that Pearson
had problems throughout the testing season, including:
- A subcontractor failed to deliver testing materials to some
- Some of the company's student databases weren't compatible
with state databases, delaying the bulk of student scores.
- Tenth-graders had to be given the exams again on paper after a
computerized version had systemwide glitches.
- Technical problems plagued testing of the state's new
computerized end-of-course exams.
Pearson officials did not respond to requests for comment from
the Herald on Friday or The Associated Press on Sunday.
Additionally, to save money, the state opted to have the writing
tests this year graded by one person instead of two. The state
delayed releasing those results to make sure they were valid.
The state's chancellor for kindergarten through 12th grade,
Frances Haithcock, sent a memo late Friday to superintendents
apologizing for the scoring delays. She said the test results will
"I fully intend to take action that will ensure the
contractor-related problems experienced this year are not repeated
in the future," she wrote.
School administrators say the delays make it difficult to make
staffing decisions for the next academic year. For students, the
scores determine which classes they can take, what extra help they
need and whether they can change schools.
Pearson has had problems with exams in other states, too.
The company and the College Board settled a class action lawsuit
for nearly $3 million after 4,400 students were underscored on the
SAT in 2006.
Pearson was blamed for delays related to test-scoring problems
in Arkansas last year and South Carolina in 2008. This year,
Wyoming claimed $9.5 million in damages after an online test
administered statewide by Pearson was plagued with glitches.
Nearly all major testing companies have had problems since the
federal No Child Left Behind law made standardized testing a
national priority, said Robert Schaeffer of the National Center for
Fair & Open Testing.
"Companies over-promise and under-deliver and states,
particularly in the last several years because of the fiscal
crisis, take the lowest bidder who promises to do the job whether
that company's track record demonstrates that they can do it,"
And while standardized tests are used to hold schools, students
and educators accountable, "there is absolutely no accountability
for the corporations who make those tests," Schaeffer said.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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