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South Florida Schools Prep For The FCAT 2.0

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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – South Florida students will soon begin taking the test they have been prepping for all year.

Starting Monday the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test 2.0 will be administered to students across the state.

Unlike previous years, CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald reported that the FCAT 2.0 will be harder to pass, student scores will factor into teaching evaluations, more students will take the test online, and the state will require seating charts and will ask students to promise not to cheat.

The Florida Department of Education has implemented higher scoring standards to align with the new academic content standards of the FCAT 2.0, making it harder for students to pass.

A major change for 2012 is that student scores will contribute to teacher evaluations. A grade will be given to teachers based on the students’ exam scores which will count for half of the teacher evaluations.

The Herald reported that district officials say they expect the testing period to go smoothly. They’ve asked parents and students to keep a positive attitude.

“Really, the impact of the changes is not so much for the kids. We know it’s a new test, it’s a harder test. It should be transparent,” said Gisela Feild, Miami-Dade’s director of research and assessment.

In addition to higher expectations, Florida education officials will have stricter security policies. All test administrators will have to keep seating charts and students taking a paper test will have to pledge not to cheat.

“It is part of an overall system designed to make clear that Florida takes the issue of cheating seriously,” FDOE spokeswoman Jamie Mongiovi said in an email.

Some students will be taking the paperless version of the FCAT 2.0. The FDOE reported that select grades and subjects will transition from paper-based tests to computer-based tests each year.

The state has had some computer-based exams since 2006. But this year, sixth-graders and 10th-graders will take their reading exams on computers. This creates logistical challenges for some schools that may not have enough computers.

At George Washington Carver Middle School in Coral Gables, Principal Libia Gonzalez said she borrowed computers from other classrooms to create an extra, temporary computer lab. The computer teacher won’t be able to teach in her lab during testing. The library, which also houses computers, will be closed to other classes.

Karen Aronowitz, president of the United Teachers of Dade, said online exams muddy what the score means, especially for kids who don’t have regular access to computers.

“Are you getting an accurate result of what they know on their test, or are you getting a poorer result because of their inability to use the technology?” she said.

The Miami Herald contributed to this report.

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