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Software glitch causes delay in release of FCAT scores

By Staff | Jun 8, 2010

Florida Department of Education officials confirmed Monday that a glitch in software has caused a delay in the release of student FCAT scores.
School districts expected 2010 scores sometime this week, but now it’s likely they won’t be released until the end of June, said state officials. Lee County students took the FCAT exams in March and early scores for the third grade were released last week.
Monday afternoon, Lee County School District officials were unclear what effect the delayed scores will have.
Yet, for a small group of high school seniors, this round of FCAT exams is their last chance to be allowed to graduate high school. Students must pass the exams in 10th grade, but they have two additional years to retake it if they’ve failed.
According to a letter sent from Chancellor Frances Haithcock to district superintendents, the glitch isn’t related to Pearson’s test scoring system, instead it is a piece of technology which matches student information with a scored test.
If these two pieces of information don’t match identically, then officials have to check each mismatched entry. Furthermore, other issues within Pearson’s own internal systems are exacerbating those delays, the chancellor said.
“Each apparent mismatch must be researched, resolved and rechecked in order to ensure accuracy,” wrote Haithcock. “While this checking and rechecking process is clearly outlined in Pearson’s scope of work, internal systems issues within their database are causing delays in the resolution of these matches.”
The FLDOE has also contracted with The Buros Institute since 2007 to act as a third-party ensuring all of the scoring is accurate.
Haithcock stressed that any scores previously released have been entirely accurate.
According to the letter, scores for the FCAT Writing exam, where scoring procedures have recently changed, are being delayed the longest. Instead of having two people scoring the exam, the state opted for one to save money.
“Additionally, I realize that you may have particular concerns with this year’s FCAT Writing results as they have been delayed the longest,” wrote Haithcock. “The extended delay on these scores is the result of the additional validation review by Buros and the database issues mentioned above. Again, we remain fully confident in the results of this FCAT Writing administration.”
According to a report from the Associated Press, Pearson’s contract with the Florida Department of Education is worth $254 million and lasts until November 2013. The scope of its work is to administer and score the FCAT, as well as pilot the state’s initiative to use computer-based testing.