LEAP testing is underway in Lafayette Parish and district administrators are trying something new to help boost test scores: unplugging the microwaves. It's an effort to apparently boost Wi-Fi functionality on campuses that use the online version of the test.

Last year, the biggest drop in scores was seen in middle schools. These were the same schools that tried new technology including Chromebook laptops. Last year, overall school test scores in Lafayette dropped more than 2-percent. And this year, as teachers and students ramp up test prep, word came from the district that microwaves will be off limits.

One parent reported to KPEL last year, that campuses had staggered testing times because servers were being overloaded. This year 23 additional network servers were added along with 500 access points and 8,000 new Chromebooks.

In a comment to The Daily Advertiser, LPSS spokesman Randy Bernard said, "There is a concern that microwave ovens could interfere with WiFi connectivity and cause disruptions for students testing online."

A quick Google of "microwaves and wi-fi" found that this is not an uncommon problem. Microwaves and most wi-fi routers operate on the same frequency according to several sources including Gizmodo.com.

In theory, a properly shielded microwave shouldn't leak any radiation, but the reality is that they leak quite a bit, resulting in electromagnetic, or radio-frequency (RF), interference. And yes, Wi-Fi is a radio signal, but it's broadcasting on a much higher frequency than most broadcast radios operate on.


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