FCAT to be replaced later this year

The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test has been a part of students’ lives for 16 years, but that will soon change.

The FCAT will be replaced with a new test at the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year.

Pam Stewart, Florida Department of Education Commissioner, said the new standardized test will give teachers freedom in the classroom and prepare students to become logical thinkers.

“The new assessment will measure each child’s progress and achievement on the Florida Standards, which were developed with an unprecedented amount of public input,” Stewart said. Dekendrick Murray, a Ronald McNair Scholar from the University of Florida who plans to become a middle school teacher in Jacksonville in the fall, said he is happy about the change to the FCAT.

“I don’t believe it fully capitalized on preparing students for higher education,” Murray said. “It caused schools to only focus on making sure students passed the test, not learn the information.”

While some are happy the FCAT will be over, others have a different opinion.

Jamal Akhtab, a senior at James Rickards High School who has taken the FCAT, said the replacement test won’t make a difference.

“It is still a standardized test,” Akhtab said. “I feel like students shouldn’t be judged by a standardized test. It’s not fair that a student who can make all A’s be held back because they failed one test.”

Trikia White, who teaches at Raa Middle School, said she doesn’t think any standardized test can accurately predict a student’s learning ability.

“It’s a test that teaches regurgitation of answers and memorization,” White said. “There is no demonstration of learning, and that is unfair because students have different learning styles.”

However, State Board of Education Chairman Gary Chartrand said the new testing will help prepare students for higher education.

“The selection of our new assessment tool is a critical step forward,” Chartrand said. “Florida students will be assessed on their knowledge of the Florida Standards, which will prepare them for success in college, careers and in life.”

While there will be challenges for this new test and many opinions seem leery, Murray remained optimistic.

“All in all, the test needed a lot of work, and I’m happy that we are creating something different,” Murray said. “My hope is that it is inclusive of culture, background and different types of schools in different areas, creating something that is effective across the board.”