First there was the letter from Pam Stewart:
The department worked with AIR throughout the day and into the evening yesterday to better understand the issues that affected online testing in Florida on Monday. AIR has determined that a software issue caused log-in issues, including delays and error messages for a number of districts. AIR reports that of the 69,177 tests that were started yesterday, 67,745 were successfully completed.
AIR and its hosting provider, Rackspace, have worked to ensure that service is restored to the servers that support the Florida Standards Assessment (FSA). Last night, AIR conducted an additional load test on the hardware that supports FSA and it showed improved performance after the software changes. AIR will continue to monitor server performance throughout the entire FSA testing window.
Districts may begin or resume testing as soon as they desire, and additional guidance will be provided to assessment coordinators shortly.
Sincerely, Pam Stewart
Hardly the, hey guys sorry we really blew that one, was it.
Then there was AIR’s apology which they released through Education Week not through the department of education or even a press release.
“AIR Assessment, the organization delivering the tests for Florida, accepts full responsibility for the difficulty,” the organization said. “We updated student data, which was not immediately available to the testing servers. When students logged onto the test, the servers were forced to reach out to other databases to get the necessary student information.”
“This substantially degraded performance,” the AIR added. “This data is now available to the testing servers, so the problem should not recur.
Um what? Okay sure but shouldn’t you be telling that to the people of Florida at least through the people you work for instead of going through a national magazine. As bad as Pam Stewart’s apology was this is just weird. They used the ostrich defense. They figure if they bury their gaff in the sand maybe nobody will notice.
Then there were even more problems. From State Impact: For the second day in a row, some Florida school districts decided to suspend required testing because of computer problems.
And it looks like we may have a full scale testing revolt brewing in Miami. Miami-Dade superintendent Alberto Carvalho says he won’t resume testing until the state can prove everything is working.
“Improving the system alone isn’t sufficient for me, for my teachers, or my students,” Carvalho said at a morning press conference. “I respect them too much. Either they have it right, or they don’t. And improvement of something that broke down is not sufficient.”
Florida I would like to blast you for failing to recognize and prepare for the most predictable of problems but it would make me feel like I was picking on a helpless puppy.