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FCATs Underway Across South Florida

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – They’ve studied, they’ve reviewed and they’ve taken practice tests.

Nearly two million Florida public school students are now taking the state administered Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.  Over the next two weeks students will be tested on reading comprehension, math skills and science.

This year things will be a little different. Not only will the tests be harder to pass because the state has raised the scoring standard but, for the first time, those scores will be used to evaluate their teachers, according to CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald. Scores will be used to determine a ‘value added model’ which will count for half of the teacher’s evaluation.

Because the state has raised the bar for a passing grade, many educators fear more students will fail the tests this year.

Another change this year is that the all test administrators will have a seating chart and students will have to sign a pledge not to cheat.

While some students have been able to take portions of the FCATs on computers since 2006, this will be the first year sixth and tenth graders will have to take the reading portion online. This has created problems for some schools which had to bring in extra computers for the tests.

The head of the Miami-Dade teachers union, Karen Aronowitz, told the paper the increased use of online exams may cause problems for students who don’t use a computer at home or in school. She said it will be difficult to judge if it’s a lack of test subject knowledge or unfamiliarity with the technology if a student scores poorly.

CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed to this report.

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