Putting Education Reform To The Test

Bandwidth, Computers, Classroom Space All A Challenge In Online Testing

Florida school districts have to upgrade networking and devices for new online testing.

ACS Amman / Flickr

Florida school districts have to upgrade networking and devices for new online testing.

Having enough high-speed Internet and computers are problems as Florida school districts transition to online testing tied to new math and language arts standards.

But testing rules have made classroom space and logistics a challenge as well.

Pensacola News Journal reporter Michael Scott Davidson outlines some of the issues in Santa Rosa County schools:

Wyrosdick said the school district has invested about $3.5 million to buy and upgrade infrastructure to meet the minimum specifications for testing systems. The standards are required but not funded by the Florida Department of Education, so a recent half-cent sales tax has financed the purchases.

There are other problems, too. Guidelines that dictate how far apart students taking the test must sit mean that in a close-quarter computer lab, not every available computer can be utilized.

Scheduling is a big problem because most classrooms aren’t outfitted with enough computers to conduct a standardized test, said Bill Emerson, Santa Rosa County assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and assessment.

“It used to be if we had 300 kids taking the FCAT, we’d put them all in the cafeteria,” he said. “Now it takes 10 different classrooms to do that. And most of our schools don’t have 10 computer labs.

And as the story notes, schools must also pay for additional bandwidth and new computers. Pensacola’s Washington High School has 400 computers for more than 1,600 students.

See how ready your school district says it is for new online testing by checking the Florida Readiness Gauge website.


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