Costly cure

Although there is an intense interest in increasing the passage rate for the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test and involving parents in the process, two bills before the Florida legislature allowing parents to have access to their child’s responses to individual problems are not the answer.

Presently, parents are notified of their children’s scores on the FCAT in reading and mathematics. The parents also have access to the overall performance grades every public school posts. However, the individual test results of students are not disclosed.

The bill would give school authorities 21 days to arrange a viewing of the test results when parents ask to see test materials. Any refusal by the school would be punishable by a fine of $100 per day.

Despite the fact that schools that failed to comply would face the fines, the state of Florida would handle the greater financial brunt of such legislation. Because the FCAT is not recreated with completely new questions each year, any viewing of the questions and incorrect responses would require the creation of new questions each year.

Also, the increased handling of the tests also raises the chances of test materials being photocopied or stolen, thus further increasing the need for new questions. By requiring new questions, Florida will have to spend millions more in commissioning, editing, printing, administrating and scoring of the FCAT.

The costs are too high to justify parents viewing the test results of their children after they have already failed the test. Parents need to realize there are better steps to take toward making sure students pass the test.

The most effective way to help their children pass the FCAT is by being involved with their education before they take the test.

Being involved means that the parents actively assist their children with their schoolwork or ensure that adequate help is provided to help with that work.

Being involved means that parents take the time and energy to know that their child is learning throughout the school year.

Being involved means that parents see the scores of the practice FCATs that students take in school. These practice tests are a preemptive method to prevent failure.

The Florida legislature should refrain from passing this costly legislation that will prove to be more expensive than effective.

Parents must understand that by the time the FCAT scores are released, deciding to help their children is too little too late.

Jason E. Hutchins for the editorial board