Today’s technical problems, which disrupted computerized testing in many Florida districts, are far from unusual. Many other states have experienced similar failures, according to the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest), which monitors standardized exams across the country.
Earlier this month, the statewide testing systems in Kansas and Oklahoma both crashed. Last year, technical problems disrupted computerized exams in Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Ohio and Oklahoma. In the recent past, new, automated testing programs collapsed in Oregon and Wyoming, requiring administration of replacement, pencil-and-paper versions.
After root cause investigations, both Wyoming and Oklahoma levied multi-million dollar fines against Pearson, the same testing vendor Florida uses. Wyoming labeled the company in “complete default of the contract” and replaced it. Oklahoma let its contract with Pearson expire.
Why might this be happening?
“The reason for so many screw-ups is simple,” explained FairTest Public Education Director Bob Schaeffer. “The technology supporting statewide computerized testing is not ready for prime time.”
Schaeffer continued, “Like many other testing policies, politicians imposed new requirements before systems had been thoroughly developed and beta-tested. There are at least three separate problems.
- Many schools lack the up-to-date computer equipment and other infrastructure needed to mass administer tests.
- Large numbers of districts do not have the internet bandwidth to handle the volume.
- Some testing company servers do not have the capacity the meet the surge of demand from multiple locations logging on simultaneously.”
Here's what the high school tests look like in Finland.
The mathematics exam consists of 15 problems of which student can choose no more than ten.
Sample essay topics:
“Some politicians, athletes and other celebrities have publicly regretted and apologized for what they have said or done. Discuss the meaning of the apology and accepting it as a social and personal act.”
“Has your body become your hobby?”
“Media is competing for audiences – what are the consequences?”
“Choose three world religions and compare the role and use of a holy image within them.”Finland’s universities still offer world-class academic studies free of tuition fees for all students (including foreign students), and most degree programs are offered in English. If an American wishes to study in Finland without the burden of college fees, she or he is expected to be on par with Finnish students in variety of knowledge domains, some of which may not be included in CAHSEE or other American high school exit tests.