Putting Education Reform To The Test

Feedback Loop: FCAT Not Blinding Them With Science

Robert Krampf / TheHappyScientist.com

Happy Scientist Robet Krampf

Earlier this week we wrote about “Happy Scientist” blogger Robert Krampf, who criticized  some of the questions, answers and background material on practice materials for the FCAT science test.

Krampf argued the test presented one multiple choice answer as correct, when a number of the answers were scientifically correct.

Krampf took his concerns to the Florida Department of Education, who told him the questions had been approved by a committee. An agency employee told Krampf that though one question had multiple answers that were scientifically correct, only one answer was included in the 5th grade curriculum.

StateImpact Florida readers showed no mercy towards the test. Here’s fcatastrophe:

My 6th grader is in an accelerated math class in a Broward public school.  A few weeks ago she was doing her homework, a packet of practice questions for the math FCAT, and there was a question about the area of a circle.  She knew the formula she was supposed to use – it’s pi times the radius squared – but none of the multiple choice answers had pi in them.  Instead, a couple of them had the fraction 22/7, which were not numbers that corresponded to anything in the question.  It took both of us quite a while to figure out that the fraction was there in place of pi. Is the testing company deliberately trying to trick the kids, or do they just not care, as long as they can take the money and run?

Bigdhlwd says he or she had also just noticed this problem:

I am sitting here with my mouth open, because two weeks ago I was reading that “soft petals” question on the DOE website and ranting to my friend about how the question was using terrible science to test 5th graders. She and I both volunteer in public schools doing hands on science and both of us have science degrees. These tests are bad ” gotcha” tools that do nothing to test real science knowledge, and will turn kids who are excited about science into frustrated, science-hating robots. The state claims to care about STEM subjects, but this is an example of how politicians, test companies, and others who are hundreds of miles from actual classrooms are grading our children. It makes me so sad for curious, potential young scientists.

Bikebird110 says protecting the test materials shield test makers from responsibility:

Here’s one for you:  middle school end of year course exam (Algebra) on computer.  Teacher/proctor is not permitted to read the question, only to assist with students and computer operating issues.  Student works through problem on scratch paper, and finds that his/her answer doesn’t match with any choices given.  Teacher looks at problem worked out on scratch paper, and determines that the child has correctly answered the problem, but the correct answer is not one listed.  Teacher can do nothing about it since he/she is not permitted to read the test, only the test prompts.  School therefore does nothing.  Child has no defense, and since testing by computer is graded by computer, the testing company is not held accountable.

Thanks for reading. Keep sending us your comments and questions.

Reader reaction is an important part of building StateImpact Florida’s education coverage. Feedback Loop will be a regular feature highlighting your questions, criticisms and comments.


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