Testing Screw-Ups, Fines and We’re Working on It


WTSP reporter Grayson Kamm went looking for more answers about last months FCAT snafu and spoke with education commissioner Pam Stewart. He writes:

“Where is the state in figuring out how much money this screw-up cost us?” I asked the state’s education chief after she gave a briefing to educators in Tampa.

“We’ve got folks working on that, even as we speak. And we’ll be working with the vendor,” Stewart said, adding that she’s going after that vendor, called Pearson Education.

Pearson will be on the hook to pay back the state for overtime, new equipment, and any other costs Florida racked up responding to the FCAT debacle.

10 Investigates uncovered a previous problem with Pearson delivering FCAT results. That problem forced Pearson to pay Florida back almost $15 million.

Is the testing company ready to write another big check this time — or will Florida have to fight them for it in court?

“Are we gonna eat some of this cost?” I asked Stewart.

“I don’t see Florida eating any of the cost. I think that we’ll recoup from the vendor,” she answered. “I think that they’ll recognize what they need to pay to us.”

What does Pearson say? Will they pay up?

I reached out to Pearson’s spokeswoman by email — the company doesn’t provide a phone number for her — and I got no response before my deadline. But I will keep asking until they do respond.

Next year, Florida is getting a new test to replace the FCAT. It’s being designed right now by a whole new vendor. Could this happen again with them?

“As we are moving forward, we are making sure that we include things in the contract… safeguards in place that nothing like that would occur again” Stewart said.

 

The commissioner told me the new vendor’s contract has stiff fines for any testing problems they create.

And — more importantly — she has real faith in the new company, a nonprofit she helped select for the job. “We believe that they will be able to deliver,” Stewart said

C’mon, Pam.

Nobody believes that this won’t happen again – especially with so many Florida schools lacking in testing infrastructure. Those tricky unfunded mandates, you know.

So is this the brave new world that high-stakes tests in Florida’s public schools?(Republicans made sure their voucher schools don’t have to go through this) It’s all about making sure we get fine money when they screw-up?

It should come as no surprise that Stewart is flacking the new testing vendor she chose.  She’s better hope there’s no drama in Utah, where she remarkably decided to vet them.  And she has no way of knowing whether the new tests will go off without a glitch or it Florida’s testing infrastructure can handle it. I guess we can just hope that we can recoup some fine money when it all collapses.

About Bob Sikes

A long time ago and a planet far, far away I was an athletic trainer for the New York Mets. I was blessed to be part of the now legendary 1986 World Series Championship. My late father told me that I'd one day be thankful I had that degree in teaching from Florida State University. He was right and I became twice blesses to become a teacher in the late 1990's. After dabbling with writing about the Mets and then politics, I settled on education.
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2 Responses to Testing Screw-Ups, Fines and We’re Working on It

  1. Melinda B says:

    What about the teachers who will have skewed data now? Our students waited close to 2 hours to start their math FCAT on the computer.. by that time they were not focused as they would have been if it had gone smoothly… notice nothing is said about that.. about how the teacher’s pay may be affected by lower scores.. but hey… at least Pearson will pay the state. Ugh

  2. GetReal says:

    What about the students who’s academic achievement is judged by these tests? Start times were delayed while waiting students lost interest and focus. Students were “kicked out” of the website and had to re-enter several times over several hours. By that time, they were “done”…no longer motivated to “do their best on the test.” These tests should be thrown out as their data is not valid.

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