Putting Education Reform To The Test


Your Guide To Florida's Ever-Changing FCAT


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.

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Ready Or Not, Students, New Florida Exam Is Here

At Miami’s iPrep Academy, getting ready for the state’s new standardized test includes rapping. Two students are recording the daily announcements, telling classmates when and where they need to be starting today. “Monday is ninth graders, with last name A to G,” one student raps, in a rhyme that’s no threat to Miami’s Rick Ross. […]

Meet Florida’s New Statewide Test

This spring, Florida students will take a brand new test tied to the state’s new math, reading and writing standards. This is the test that replaces the FCAT. It’s known as the Florida Standards Assessment, and it’ll be online. What’s on the test won’t be the only thing different about the exam. Students will also […]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 […]

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