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Putting Education Reform To The Test

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Your Guide To Florida's Ever-Changing FCAT

Background

The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test is the foundation upon which the “Florida model” of education reform was built, serving as the basis for school and district report cards. FCAT result will also comprise half of teacher evaluations once districts design their legislatively required merit pay systems.

Florida rolled out the standardized test in 1998, and in 2010 tested students on math, reading, writing and science. School and district grades are based on both student scores and their improvement on the test from previous years.

An updated version of the test, known as FCAT 2.0, began phasing out the original version in 2010. The new test will be given to students as young as 3rd grade, and increases the difficulty of the math, science and reading tests.

The updated test will eventually include end-of-course exams for Algebra, Biology, Civics, Geometry and U.S. History.

Critics have argued tying standardized tests, such as the FCAT, to teacher pay encourages teachers or districts to cut corners or cheat to achieve better schools. In 2011, Florida asked 14 districts to review FCAT test with a high number of similar answers.

Latest Posts

Florida Teachers Consider ‘Civil Disobedience’ To Say No To Testing

Miramar High School teacher David Ross says testing has taken more and more time away from teaching. He refused to administer an FCAT make-up exam in protest.

In September, Alachua County kindergarten teacher Susan Bowles refused to give a state reading test. She told the parents of her students it was an act of civil disobedience. The Florida Department of Education later suspended the exam for this year. Florida requires that most students are tested every year. Those results help determine which [...]

Florida Schools Rearrange Schedules To Add Extra Hour Of Reading

307 Florida schools must add an extra hour of reading instruction this year.

Florida schools are making plans for how to add a state-required extra hour of reading instruction, according to two stories out today. In 2012, lawmakers required that the 100 schools with the lowest scores on the FCAT reading test add an extra hour of reading instruction to try and boost those scores. When the Office [...]

Check Out The Practice Questions For The New FCAT Replacement

The Florida Department of Education has released practice questions for the new assessments that will replace the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test next year. The tests, which are aligned to the new Common Core-based Florida Standards, are available at the Florida Standards Assessments website.  Some questions are similar to what students might have seen on the [...]

More Florida Schools Must Add Extra Reading Instruction

The number of Florida schools required to add an extra hour of reading instruction will increase this fall.

Florida will expand the number of schools required to add an extra hour of reading instruction this fall, Education Week reports. Two years ago lawmakers required the 100 elementary school with the lowest scores on the state reading test to add an extra hour for reading. Now, the 300 lowest-scoring schools will have to add [...]

Third Grade Passing Rates On FCAT Math And Reading Flat

Republican, Democrat and independent candidates were unanimous Tuesday -- Florida schools test too much.

The percentage of Florida third graders passing the state’s FCAT math and reading exams did not improve this year — remaining largely flat for the past three years — according to initial test results released Friday. Fifty-seven percent of third graders scored at least a 3, the state’s passing score, on the reading test. On [...]

Opting Out Of FCAT Can Have Consequences

A letter sent home warning parents their student may not be able to attend a field trip if they miss the FCAT.

Monday we told you about activists who are educating parents about what their options are when it comes to FCAT exams. While state law doesn’t allow parents to withhold their children from the exam, the law does outline alternatives to required tests. But opting out might still come with some consequences. A parent forwarded us [...]

Schools Suspend FCAT Because Of Computer Problems

Some Florida school districts have suspended FCAT testing after having problems connecting to the online exam.

UPDATE: Education Commissioner Pam Stewart has sent a letter to Pearson saying she expects “a resolution and explanation for this immediately.” “This failure is inexcusable,” Stewart wrote. “Florida’s students and teachers work too hard on learning to be distracted by these needless and avoidable technological issues.” Read Stewart’s letter below. Original post: Schools are suspending [...]

Why Florida Parents Want To Opt Their Kids Out Of State Tests

Last week Gov. Rick Scott delivered an $8.5 million check to Hillsborough County schools earning good marks on the state’s grading formula. Those grades depend a lot on student FCAT scores. So Hillsborough Superintendent MaryEllen Elia took a moment pump up students at West Tampa’s Graham Elementary School before this week’s testing. “Next week you’re [...]

Meet The New SAT

Throw away the old prep guides because the SAT will be changing in 2016.

The new SAT will take a little less time, focus on words students are more likely to encounter and have fewer answers for each multiple choice question, according to a preview from the College Board, to non-profit which oversees the college entrance exam. Changes to the SAT are particularly important in Florida, because the Sunshine [...]

Gov. Scott Avoids Question About House, Senate Private School Scholarship Dispute

Gov. Rick Scott presented Hillsborough schools with an $8.5 million check. Schools which earned an A on the state report card or significantly improved their grade earned a $100 bonus per student.

House and Senate leaders are divided over whether students who receive a tax credit scholarship to attend a private school should have to take the state’s standardized test. The dispute — the Senate wants the requirement, the House does not — has threatened to derail a bill which would expand eligibility for the private school [...]

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