Florida Keys

Keys schools looking at making tests paper and pencil


After a tumultuous year of computer problems with state-mandated tests, Monroe County School District Superintendent Mark Porter wants to look at something tried and true – paper and pencil.

Porter discussed the possibility of making tests paper and pencil at the School Board’s workshop Tuesday at Coral Shores High School in Tavernier.

“Computer-based testing seems to be kind of driving this disruption because of the need for highly-capable computers,” Porter said Thursday. “I kind of owe it to our teachers to kind of fully explore what the options and alternatives might be.”

The Florida Standards Assessments replaced the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test this past school year. The FSA tests debuted across the state March 2 to problems including students being booted off the online test and cyber-attacks on an FSA testing server, although few students in the Keys were affected.

However, both Porter and School Board Chairman John Dick mentioned the inconvenience of having to place students in a computer lab to do these tests.

“Everybody can do a paper and pencil test at the same time,” Dick said. “We’re better off with paper and pencil.”

According to Accountability and Assessment Director Dave Murphy, locally developed mid-terms could be included in the paper and pencil tests. Cost is another issue.

“The question is what would the state say if we say we want to give them all paper and pencil,” Murphy said. “What will that charge be?”

Murphy said there is no firm timetable on talking to the Florida Department of Education about the matter, but he said other school districts have expressed interest as well. Claudia Claussen, a FDOE spokeswoman, said paper and pencil tests are now only available for disabled students.

“These accommodations are specifically for students who cannot access online content,” Claussen said.

Other School Board members are on board with paper and pencil tests as well.

“The cost of 8,000 pencils, I’ll donate it,” board member Ed Davidson said at Tuesday’s meeting.

Go to KeysNet.com to read more.