Putting Education Reform To The Test

13th Grade: Explaining the Postsecondary Education Readiness Test

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The PERT is a computerized test to determine whether students require remedial help before taking college-level classes.

Along with our partners at the Florida Center for Investigative reporting, we’ve been telling you about the growing need for remedial courses at Florida’s state colleges.

Students are required to take remedial courses because of their scores on PERT — the Postsecondary Education Readiness Test. The test is given to high school students to determine if they need remedial help.

Half the students who took the state’s college placement test in the 2010-2011 school year failed at least one section of the test and were placed in a remedial course. (PERT was introduced in 2010 to begin replacing the state’s former test, Accuplacer, so these figures are for the older test.)

So what is PERT? And who has to take it?

PERT is three-section computerized test, with 30 questions in each section, used to determine if students are ready for college-level courses.

The student’s answers on 25 questions determine their placement, while the remaining five questions are used for field testing in order to maintain a bank of questions for use on the test. Students do not know which questions count and which do not.

The test sections are not timed but take about 30 minutes to complete the math and writing sections and an hour for the reading portion.

Because the test is computerized, students start with an average difficulty question and the test adjusts based on the answer. If the student answers correctly, then he or she is likely to get a more difficult question. An incorrect answer will likely mean a less difficult question.

The testing program is designed to hone in on any student’s skill level using just 25 questions for each

Not every student is required to take the PERT.

High school students who score a 2 or 3 on the reading portion of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (52 percent of 10th graders in 2012) or a 2, 3 or 4 on the math FCAT must take the PERT. Students can only take the PERT twice.

A student is exempt from the test if they score a 17 on English, an 18 on reading and a 19 on math on the ACT, or 440 on the math and verbal portions of the SAT 1.

Students are considered college-ready if they score 113 on the math test, 104 on the reading test and 99 on the reading test. All three tests are scored on a 50 to 150 point scale.

Read the Florida Department of Education’s frequently asked PERT questions below.


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