St. Petersburg, Florida -- It should come as no surprise that the state is having problems with Pearson, the company which has the contract to run the FCAT.
10 Investigates has uncovered the Florida Department of Education has had problems with the company in the past.
The Florida Department of Education expressed its displeasure with contractor Pearson four years ago with a scathing letter to the company's President saying "the Product Pearson access is unacceptable and not equipped to handle the task." As a result, Pearson paid the state $14.7 million for expenses the districts experienced because delays of FCAT results.
But problems are not limited to Florida. Pearson settled two class action suits in Minnesota for $9.85 million for incorrectly grading student's assessment tests.
It paid the state of Wyoming $5.1 million for technical problems with assessment tests. And in New York City, Pearson's errors in grading tests last year caused 5,000 students to be told they were ineligible to be in the Gifted Program when, in fact, they should have qualified. As result, members of the Board of Regents questioned if the company could handle the work load.
Then, there is an Inspector General Audit that blasted Pearson for it's work with the TSA saying there were more than 300 million of unsubstantiated spending at luxury hotels by the company and its subcontractor.
In the meantime, Pearson's spokesperson Stacy Skelly issued this statement in response to Tuesday's problem in the Bay area school districts:
Pearson's online testing services for Florida experienced internet traffic disruptions today due to a network issue with our third-party hosting service provider, Savvis. We are working closely with Savvis to remedy the situation as soon as possible. Even with the disruption, which did present difficulties for some school districts, many students are testing normally with almost 200,000 tests delivered today.
Savvis' parent company CenturyLink contacted 10 News and said the problem was on their end and they are working to fix it.
"CenturyLink Technology Solutions experienced an issue with network-related hardware, which caused Pearson to experience a temporary Internet traffic disruption. We apologize for this disruption and have resolved the issue impacting Pearson. We are working with Pearson and our hardware vendors to implement a permanent fix."
The company has a contract with the state through 2015. The company bid is about $300 million cheaper than the second closet bidder.
In addition, since Pearson has had the contract, 10 Investigates found records showing it spent close to $650,000 in lobbying efforts in Florida over a 5-year period. The lobbyist for Pearson, Steve Uhlfelder, was included in that figure. The other work he does, includes legal work and public relations.