FCAT to resume after computer glitch causes major disruptions

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SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. —

State education officials are hoping for a smooth day of FCAT testing Wednesday after a computer glitch caused disruptions, delays and test cancellations on Tuesday.

Several Florida school districts had trouble administering the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test to students Tuesday and officials said a computer glitch is to blame.

For tens of thousands of students across central Florida who have been gearing up for the FCAT test for months, the computer server problem disrupted everything. Some couldn't take the test, while others could take the test but couldn't sent the results in.

Channel 9 learned that six of the eight school districts in central Florida experienced problems and some were forced to halt testing.

Orange, Seminole, Lake, Marion and Brevard counties all had issues administering the test Tuesday.

Brevard County officials said their problems began in the afternoon when about 25 percent of the students in grades 6 through 10 were unable to submit their results. Officials said when the error messages began to appear they decided to call a halt to the testing.

Seminole County Public Schools spokesman Michael Lawrence said students taking the FCAT reading test in seventh and 10th grades as well as those taking the sixth-grade math exam were all unable to access the test. He said some schools may schedule a testing makeup day.

Both Flagler and Volusia counties had problems but were able to resolve them.

Victoria Ash of the Florida Department of Education said, "The issue does not seem to be statewide, but several districts have reported issues."

School administrators in Osceola County said they did not encounter any trouble. They said they aren't sure why everything worked so well for them when counties around the state had problems.

While some districts were able to resolve their FCAT computer issues for at least 20,000 students in central Florida it was a no-go Tuesday.

"You'd hope they'd have it together as much as they prepare all year. The kids prepare for this all year, you'd think they'd prepare for the whole year," said David Cosat, whose child was supposed to take the test Tuesday.

Florida's Education Commissioner Pam Stewart wrote a scathing letter to Pearson, the company whose server problem caused the FCAT meltdown. She called the problems "inexcusable."

Stewart told  Pearson officials that she wants "a resolution and an explanation for this immediately," and said she intends to pursue monetary damages and other remedies as a result of Pearson's failure to fulfill its contract with the state.

Tamara Lynch, the mother of a Glenridge Middle School student who couldn't take his FCAT test said she agrees with Stewart.

"I don't think it's good for the kids. They prepare all year. My son tries to keep up, stay ahead of the game," Lynch said.

Besides evaluating students' progress, FCAT scores are used to determine teacher merit pay raises and for 10th graders the scores are used as part of their graduation requirements.

Late Tuesday afternoon state education officials said they believe the computer problems would be resolved on Wednesday.