Putting Education Reform To The Test

One Orlando Charter School Was Happy To Take The FCAT This Year

John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

The UCP Bailes campus is an Orlando charter school with a mix of students with disabilities and without. Schools such as UCP could be hit by new state school grade rules..

The many changes to the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test this year have riled students, parents and state officials.

But one Orlando charter school is pretty happy with their results.

We told you about the UCP Bailes campus in East Orlando back in December. The school began its life specializing in students with cerebral palsy and other severe disabilities. Since then the school has adopted an inclusion model.

About half the students have disabilities and half do not.

UCP students scored an average of 199 on the reading test, just under the state’s average score of 201. The percentage of UCP students scoring 3 or higher on the test, 63 percent, bested the state average of 56 percent.

“I do think it really speaks to the idea that all children can learn,” said school CEO Ilene Wilkins. “We wanted to give all those kids that experience.”

This was the first year that the school’s third graders took the FCAT reading test. Every student took the test, though some could have been exempted.

The third grade reading test is critical in Florida, because students scoring in the lowest category are at risk of being retained in third grade.

UCP uses project-based learning to teach students. That means using a sand-filled ball to demonstrate the different physics forces, for instance.

The advantage, Wilkins said, is that the school avoided a common complaint about the FCAT.

“We really didn’t teach to the test,” she said. “I don’t even know if we thought too much about the test.”



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