Miami-Dade Schools

Computer glitch disrupts FCAT testing for 1,200 Miami-Dade students


The state Department of Education is unaware of a computer glitch that affected FCAT testing occurring anywhere outside of Miami-Dade.

A computer glitch temporarily halted FCAT testing for hundreds of Miami-Dade students this week in a reminder of the potential downside to replacing No. 2 pencils and Scantrons with computer-based exams.

According to schools officials, about 1,200 students in sixth and ninth grades were interrupted Wednesday while taking the reading portion of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. The problem — a relative hiccup in a district of 350,000 — occurred after Microsoft on Tuesday released an anti-malware update that, according to a company spokesperson, impeded service for some users.

District spokesman John Schuster said the update slowed down school system computers using Windows XP, causing problems for students taking the test. But Microsoft fixed the problem that day, he said.

The length of the delay, its exact timing and the schools affected isn’t yet known, said Superintendent Alberto Carvalho. Most students were able to resume and finish testing, and “just a few” had to take the test the following day, he said.

But Carvalho said the problem was one of several small setbacks this week, including an AT&T power outage in North Dade and some struggles with testing software for students with hearing impairments.

“This is not a DEFCON 4 situation, and it’s very, very small, but I think it may actually be helpful in raising the issue with the state and starting a conversation,” Carvalho said. “What happens when there’s a breakdown?”

The problem caused by the Microsoft update may have been isolated to just those 1,200 students. Broward schools don’t begin FCAT testing until next week. And Cheryl Etters, a spokeswoman with the Florida Department of Education, said none of the state’s other 66 school districts reported a problem. A spokeswoman with Pearson, the state contractor for standardized testing, declined to answer questions.

Etters said the state has policies in place to handle such scenarios, and students aren’t docked for lost time.

Glitches have caused problems with the FCAT in the past. The Tampa Tribune reported last year that the district was puzzled when small groups of students were kicked off of reading exam software. The previous year, some students in St. Johns County couldn’t log in to their tests.

“That’s not to say computer-based testing isn’t a good thing,” Etters said.

A new test is expected to replace the FCAT next year and will be given both on paper and online.

Read more Miami-Dade stories from the Miami Herald

A sign stands at 1448 NW 103rd St. in Miami to let passers-by know the government demolished the house even though the owner was on active military duty.

    Miami-Dade County

    Miami-Dade demolished active-duty soldier’s home

    A federal judge ruled last week that the county should have delayed building-code violation proceedings against the soldier when he asked for a stay while he was in Iraq.

  • Friends and Neighbors

    Friends and Neighbors: Campaign raises money to feed hungry school children

    Local food banks want to help children who often go hungry get what they need to thrive in school. Community support is needed.

  • Friends and Neighbors

    Florida Mayors join forces to say no to bullies

    Looking back at my growing up days, I can remember how school bullies tried to made life miserable for me and a lot of other youngsters. I remember being followed home one day by a bully who wanted to start a fight. When I kept ignoring her, she soon turned, with her followers and went home. Unlike some of today’s bullies, she didn’t try to hit me. She was just all mouth, spitting out insulting remarks.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category