FCAT Scores Become Source of Controversy
article by Florida Teacher | May 16, 2012
Months after announcing that they would toughen up the FCAT standards, Florida education officials are lowering the passing score on the writing portion of the test. The number of students scoring a four or higher out of six fell from 81 percent last year to 27 percent this year.
“I knew there would be some implications on change in test scores but this was devastating,” Mark Castellano, President of the Teachers Association of Lee County said to WZVN News.
This forced the State Board of Education to hold a special meeting to lower the passing grade from a 4.0 to a 3.0. Many are attributing the drop in scores to a miscommunication about the changes in how the tests would be scored, as the test was made intentionally harder—requiring students to use correct grammar and spelling and do a better job at presenting arguments and details in their presentations.
“Somewhere there's a miss. Somewhere there's a disconnect,” Collier Superintendent Kamela Patton said to Naples Daily News. “There's no way scores drop 50-60 points.”
Robert Schaeffer, public education director for FairTest: The National Center for Fair and Open Testing, along with The Florida Association of District School Superintendents has called for an independent investigation of what went wrong with the tests.
“Simply trying to sweep the problem under the rug by lowering the cut-off score doesn't address the problem,” Schaeffer said to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
These issues with FCAT scores come as a new movement for evaluations of teachers and schools to move away from standardized tests that has begun to gain traction.
The petition asks that state governments and education boards develop a system that is based on multiple assessments outside of standardized testing. These other assessments, they claim, will give a more accurate reflection of how well a school is educating the students.
“Primarily, we’re saying we know you wanted accountability, but the pendulum has swung too far. It’s gotten ridiculous where one test on one day determines everything for that one child,” Rita Solnet, a parent activist in Palm Beach County said to The Miami Herald. “We are saying use the FCAT as a diagnostic tool — for what it’s meant to be used.”
The Palm Beach County School Board was the first board to give their endorsement to the petition back in April, and their chairman has been calling on other school boards to endorse the petition as well.
“We need to all get on the bandwagon. They’re not learning as much as they could. They’re learning for the test, and it strips the teachers from their ability to teach creatively,” Dalia Blumstein, a parent who has three children in Miami-Dade schools said to The Miami Herald.
While the issues will likely become ammunition for those supporting the movement to back off of FCAT testing, it remains to be seen how much impact the FCAT scores controversy will have on the issue.
More Florida Articles
In a dramatic 20-20 vote, the Florida state senate defeated a parent trigger bill for the second straight year. The bill would have given parents more say in how to handle failing schools....
Florida legislators have decided that while Gov. Rick Scott will be getting nearly $500 million for education, teachers won’t be receiving the across-the-board pay raises the governor had originally...
Bills moving through the legislature are seeking to expand virtual education in Florida public schools, allowing students greater access to courses from online providers....