- August 25, 2016
The cat's out of the bag on who's to blame for the delayed release of 2010 FCAT scores across the state.
NCS Pearson, the company signed last year to a $250 million contract through 2013 to grade and administer FCAT testing results, encountered problems matching demographic data with student's scores that have so far led to a two-month delay in writing score distribution and a month delay for reading, math and science scores.
Pearson expects to release the scores within a month. As a result of the delayed scores, school districts across the state, including in Orange and Seminole counties, have to decide how to proceed with planning for the coming school year.
Seminole County Public Schools spokeswoman Regina Klaers said those facing the brunt of the impact from the delay are school administrations. Without testing results, she said, administrators cannot use the time usually spent during the early summer months matching students to the correct level classes for next year.
"They can make a guess with some of the kids based on their performance this year," she said, "but we don't have all the quality data we need to make those schedule adjustments."
Orange County Public Schools public relations director Dylan Thomas said the release of school grades is another concern for both school administrations and parents.
"Everyone measures the schools by what grade they get, and they don't release the school grades typically until a month after they release the scores, so we may not know the school grades — which everyone brags about, or boasts about or frets over — until probably mid- to late-July now," he said.
Klaers also said that Adequate Yearly Progress reports will also be affected. Under No Child Left Behind, parents can send their children to higher-performing district schools if their school fails the Progress report.
"There's a definite domino effect from the scores coming out later," she said. "Some things that have some summer deadlines may have to be pushed back in order for the districts to be able to compile that information."
"The lack of performance by the state's new testing contractor, NCS Pearson, is absolutely unacceptable," Education Commissioner Eric Smith said in a June 8 release.
Smith further said in his statement that he was "outraged and frustrated" by the situation and plans to impose "significant financial penalties" against Pearson for not meeting contract deadlines.
"Please be assured that the Department's focus remains on the integrity and accuracy of the students' scores that are issued, and although delayed, these results will uphold the same level of quality and reliability that our stakeholders rely upon," he said.