• 9 Investigates: Schools say computerized testing steals learning time

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    VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. - The push for computerized testing in Florida is likely eating away at students' time to learn in the classroom, and some school administrators say it's taking a toll on resources.

    The computer lab at DeLand High School is a busy place, according to school officials.

    "For a high school, testing is happening almost all year round," Alicia Park of the Volusia County School District said.

    The district administered 70,000 tests on computers last year, including the Florida Standards Assessments. Some students took more than one.

    But officials said there aren't enough computers for everyone. So students are rotated in and out of class for weeks.

    "It definitely disrupts the continuous learning process that we would normally have when we don't have testing," Parker said.

    Money is another problem, officials said. Volusia County has spent about $6 million in the past three years to buy and maintain computers, but Parker said that money has now run out.

    "When the Race to the Top money was spent, we've had to use our capital funds," Parker said.

    The testing facility is unique to DeLand High School. It has space for about 60 students, and the district says it's in use about three-quarters of the school year.

    According to the Department of Education, the number of computer-based tests in Florida has jumped from five in 2010 to 20 this year.

    Kathleen Oropeza of the group Fund Education Now said she believes that lawmakers could do more.

    "If they're going to mandate a law, they need to fund it," Oropeza said.

    The state will provide districts with about $60 million for digital learning this year. But critics don't believe that will be enough.

    Parker said more computers are not necessarily the answer.

    "I think more computers and more technology would help, but we're also at a point where we'd have to figure out where to put them," she said.

    Some districts are pushing lawmakers to drop the FSA or offer it as a paper test.

    The education department plans to ask lawmakers for an additional $20 million for computers.


     


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