Although the Florida Comprehension Assessment Test is administered to students in the 3rd through 10th grades, high school students may have the most to lose if they perform poorly on the exam.
High school students must pass the standardized examination before they are allowed to graduate.
From the beginning of the school year, teachers prepare students for the FCAT. Testing began on Monday and continues for two weeks.
“Everything that teachers include into their curriculum evolves around the FCAT,” said Farrah H. Serrette, guidance counselor at Rickards High School.
The test not only determines whether a student graduates, but it also gives the school an overall grade on the performance of the students.
“Funding needed for school programs and activities will be affected if the school receives a failing grade,” Serrette said.
In order to improve the collective scores, Serrette said the community must help.
“The problem is that there is very little parent – teacher involvement,” Serrette said. “From a total of 400 letters sent out to parents about Saturday workshops, only 30 parents actually showed up.”
Serrette said that college students should offer positive encouragement to the high school students.
“FAMU students can volunteer to help with workshops on the weekends and let the students know that we care about them passing the test.”
While many FAMU students have been exposed to the FCAT, some were not aware that the High School Competency Test was an alternative test to take if they did not pass.
Gabriel Lopez, 20, a junior general studies student from Jacksonville, said he was lucky to have the HSCT to fall back on.
“I didn’t take the FCAT as seriously as my teachers did; I knew that I had another less difficult test to take if I didn’t pass the FCAT,” Lopez said.
On the other hand, current high school students have no other choice but to take the test more seriously.
As of July 2003, the HSCT is no longer being used and its replacement is the FCAT.
Marquita Taylor, a 19-year-old business administration student from Chattahoochee, said
the FCAT was no problem for her.
“I passed the FCAT on the first try and it did not seem hard to me at all.”
Taylor said her school had tutoring programs and workshops on Saturday to assist students with specific problems in math and comprehensive reading.
Serrette said parental support and community involvement both play a role in encouraging students to take the FCAT seriously.
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