Beginning in 2015, students will take the Florida Standards Assessments instead of the FCAT.
The Florida Standards Assessments is a suite of reading, writing and math tests designed to measure student performance. The test is tied to Florida’s Common Core-based standards, which outline what students should know at the end of each grade.
The federal government has promoted Common Core — and that has people concerned. In 2013, Florida Republican lawmakers and Gov. Rick Scott objected to the use of two federally funded tests being designed by multi-state groups. Florida sought new testing firms and eventually chose the American Institutes For Research earlier this year.
After seeking proposals for the new test, the Florida Department of Education chose the American Institutes for Research. AIR is known for high-profile education research, but the non-profit has expanded its testing business. AIR has testing contracts with 15 states, including the Common Core-based exams in Arizona, Florida and Utah.
Students will take a reading test each year in grades 3 through 10. The test still has some traditional multiple choice questions, but many take advantage of computer-based testing to include multimedia and interactivity.
Students will find audio questions on the Florida Standards Assessments reading test. This clip asks students to listen to a science podcast and answer questions.
Students taking the Florida Standards Assessments will see new types of questions, especially on the reading and math exams. Some of the questions ask students to perform tasks.
The new test also repackages the traditional multiple-choice question. These reading test questions ask students to correct — or not — the highlighted text from a drop-down menu of choices.
Questions ask students to complete several steps before arriving at the answer. Like many questions on the new exam, test-makers include more possible choices than needed to answer the question.
A handful of tests will still be taken with paper and pencil. Third and fourth graders will take math, reading and writing exams the old-fashioned way this year. And all writing tests through seventh grade will be pencil and paper this year.
Here’s what’s on the test, how long it will take and the new features.