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Politics

FSA Writing Test Postponed Amid Technical Issues

March 1, 2015 - 6:00pm

Floridas new assessment test got off to a rocky start on Monday, with some of Floridas largest school districts postponing testing until Tuesday due to technical issues.

Several schools reported technical issues with the writing portion of the Florida Standards Assessment -- many students couldnt log in to the system to take the test while others were kicked out of the test entirely.

Students grades four and up are required to take the FSA as part of Florida law.

Reports of errors started rolling in during the morning as a result of a large number of students trying to take the computerized test. Middle schools saw the most issues, but high schools werent entirely immune from technical malfunctions, either.

Problems were reported in the states largest school districts like Miami-Dade, Broward, Hillsborough and Palm Beach County, but smaller districts said they were having technical issues as well and would be forced to reschedule the test.

Its slow, Hillsborough schools spokesman Steve Hegarty said. The volume seems to be affecting the online testing.

Students, teachers and even some superintendents weighed in on the technical issues, with some taking to Twitter to voice their frustrations.

"Slow connectivity & bandwidth concerns should have been anticipated & tested for under real load conditions as state prepared for testing," wrote Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho.

Shoutout to anyone who actually took the FSA Writing test online today, said Michael Pearl, an English teacher at Olympia High School in Orlando. You don't let things like untested technology keep you down.

I feel like the FSAtest is gonna be a waste of time, read another tweet.

Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart and the Florida Department of Education said they would be investigating the issues plaguing the assessment.

The DOE said students had a two-week window to take the writing portion of the FSA.

While many students across our state are testing successfully, we have heard from some districts that are experiencing difficulties, Florida Department of Education spokeswoman Meghan Collins said. This is a 90-minute test. Students have a two-week window, plus a makeup window, to complete the test.

Mondays glitches merely added fuel to the fire for opponents of the new test, which is aligned to the new Common Core-based Florida Standards, replacing the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) this year.

These issues are far from unexpected, said FairTest Public Education Director Bob Schaeffer, pointing to similar technical malfunctions in last years testing administration. Parents, teachers, superintendents and computer experts all warned that such breakdowns were inevitable. Yet, policymakers ignored the warnings as well as evidence of similar problems last year in Florida and a dozen other states.

The FSA writing test will be administered until March 13.

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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