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Proposed FCAT Changes Make It Tougher To Pass

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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – Under a proposed new scoring system, the percentage of students who fail the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) could potentially skyrocket.

The new scoring system was proposed by the state’s Department of Education, according to the Orlando Sentinel, to achieve more consistent academic standards.

For example, under the current scoring system, more third grade and middle school students have higher passing percentages on the FCAT than those in high school.

By adjusting the scoring system the percentage of students who pass will be similar from grade to grade.

The state Board of Education will take up the scoring changes at their meeting this December. If approved, they could go into effect next year.

“I hope not. I was hoping they were going to get rid of it,” said parent Sheila Fairman.

“Whenever there’s a big test, there’s always anxiety; people are always worried about failing,” said student Tyler Byrd. “I don’t like it. I know a lot of other kids don’t like it. If it got harder it would not have a good reception from students.”

Longtime Broward School Board member Maureen Dinnen, who was a teacher for thirty-five year, worried that a harder FCAT will hurt non-college bound seniors.

“I don’t want them not be able to get a high school diploma,’ Dinnen said. “Now, do I want to challenge kids? Always. You want to challenge them to do the best, but I think the over-reliance on one test has always been a concern of mine.”

When the scoring changes are instituted, Florida’s third graders will have to achieve at least a 2 on the 5-level test in order to be promoted to the fourth grade.

According to the paper, last year 16 percent of the students who took the test failed to reach a 2; under the new scoring system 18 percent would have been held back.

Also, under the new scoring system, the number of third graders who earned grade level scores in reading would have dropped from 72 to 57 percent.

In addition to the revised FCAT and proposed scoring changes, middle and high school students this year had to pass an end of the year algebra test in order to get a credit for algebra 1 which they need to pass to graduate high school.

The proposed scoring changes would also affect the algebra exam. If the changes had been in place this year, 45 percent of those who took it would have failed.

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