Computer problems plague testing

  • Feb. 8, 2008 7:00 a.m.

Grade 4 and grade 7 students and teachers experienced frustrating computer network problems this week as they attempted to write a series of provincially-mandated tests. The BC government requires grade 4 and 7 students to write the Foundation Skills Assessment tests every year. This is the first year that students are doing portions of the tests on computers. School district superintendent Mike Woods said local computers and networks are working fine – the problem appears to be with the provincial network, and schools all over the province have had similar problems with the system crashing. “We do have a two-week window to complete the tests so (we) do not believe this will prevent students from writing and if students are being timed out their work is being saved and will be there when they come back to it – so this shouldn’t be a barrier to them doing their best,” Mr. Woods said. Queen Charlotte District Teachers Association president Norm Wagner said the FSA-related computer challenges had been a “nightmare” for teachers and students this week. They spent hours trying and re-trying to write the tests. “The whole system was crashing,” he said. “It’s been a whole schmozzle.” Teachers are concerned about how valid the test results will be given the problems that students experienced attempting to write the tests, Mr. Wagner said. The BC Teachers’ Federation has been critical of the FSA tests for a long time, saying the tests don’t help students learn and are a waste of money.