The Florida DOE’s Subtle Cover-Up of FSA Failure

A story by Miami Herald reporters Kathleen McGrory and Christina Veiga which took a look at the past week’s FSA testing meltdown was published online late last Saturday night. This paragraph – a part of every professional journalist’s obligation – is the loudest:

State education leaders did not respond to multiple requests for comment but the department has blamed the ongoing technical problems on the test provider American Institutes for Research, which Commissioner Pam Stewart revealed late last week was still tinkering on the eve of the first tests.

McGrory and Veiga would have added a statement from the FLDOE up until the time it was posted online. Why they chose not to speak with two reporters who cover education begs speculation. Commissioner Pam Stewart, who is certain to have been contacted by the two for the story, released this statement on Tuesday morning after Monday’s meltdown. After explaining it wasn’t her department’s fault and officially announced the cover they received from the faceless corporation which they are paying for the work, Stewart provided these numbers:

The department worked with AIR throughout the day and into the evening yesterday to better understand the issues that affected online testing in Florida on Monday. AIR has determined that a software issue caused log-in issues, including delays and error messages for a number of districts. AIR reports that of the 69,177 tests that were started yesterday, 67,745 were successfully completed.

Aside the reality that the 1,422 kids who were bounced constitute a serious compromise of test integrity, the numbers don’t include the massive number of kids who weren’t able to log in at all. Nor did their statement address the number in any way. Consider these numbers they released at noon on Thursday:

“In the first three days of the ten-day, two-week testing window, a total of 229,436 students completed the computer-based writing component. The breakdown is that 67,745 students completed the test Monday; 85,461 students completed the test Tuesday; and 76,230 completed the test Wednesday. There are 657,743 students registered to take the computer-based writing component. We are pleased that as of day 3, 35 percent of these students had completed the test.”

While the FLDOE kept their Monday number, these numbers still do not address the number of kids who could not log-in at all, the number of these kids who were logging in for the second time to complete their tests, or the actual number who were originally scheduled to take the test and did not. Moreover, Floridians do not know what percentage of students were expected to have taken the tests by this date. How much over 35 percent was it supposed to have been?

It is questions as these which Pam Stewart did not want to answer and McGrory and Veiga would have been sure to ask.



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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3 Responses to The Florida DOE’s Subtle Cover-Up of FSA Failure

  1. gloria says:

    Someone should ask if they thought being bumped out of the test, having to login more than once, or not being able to take the test at all would add significant stressors to students, especially sophomores who were told the results were tied to their ability to graduate. I witnessed one student’s meltdown when the program shut down as he was typing his last sentence of the essay.
    For Pete’s sake, let’s have a rubric to evaluate the state’s abysmal performance!

    • The state doesn’t believe we have the right to grade them..

      Nationally is becoming obviuos that a number of states will have to trash the results do to deliberate non completion and opt outs. If Florida is one of those it will be entertaining to watch Tally try and spin their way out of it

  2. Other states are reporting high opt out rates. Saw a blurb that said one in Colorado High School 88% had refused the test. Haven’t seen anything about how many in Florida are absent, opting out or logging in and refusing to take the test.

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