Florida lawmakers are working to faze out the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test from the state’s primary schools. The test is given to students in grades thirds thru tenth, but only determines promotion for third, eighth and tenth graders.
The test has been under scrutiny for being too critical of students and teachers performance in the classroom.
According to the Florida Department of Education, FCAT results can determine key factors that can help or hinder the operation of schools such as; school rank, course offerings and funding. Florida developed the A+ Plan in accordance with the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, offering financial incentives for schools whose pupils do well on state standardized tests.
Schools whose students do not perform well on these tests are forced to educate more remedial students with fewer resources. The teachers who instruct those remedial students are faced with the threat of a demotion or unemployment if the scores do not improve.
The exams place emphasis on reading, science and math neglecting the disciplines of history and civics in the classroom leaving children not as well rounded. “What No Child Left Behind has done is to narrow education to just testing reading and math, and we’re losing history and civics, the arts, science, literature, foreign languages,” said Diane Ravitch, former assistant secretary of education in the second Bush administration.
“Everything that makes a person an educated person is being put aside because we’re only focusing on basic skills.”
Ravitch, in her new book “The Death and Life of The Great American School System,” reveals why she disagrees with placing emphasis on a standardized test in the classroom.
“Performance has got to be more than just measuring these narrow skills. I mean, they are very important and the foundation of an education. But if you don’t know any history, and you don’t know anything about your government, you’re not an educated person,” Ravitch said in a CNN interview with Kate Bouldan.
If lawmakers pass the bill to end FCAT this session, the test will slowly begin to faze out of school curriculum within the next four years, beginning with the math portion next year. The elimination of the test is very important for ensuing generations of Florida’s students and taxpayers. Schools will finally be able to produce students who are both educated and cultured. For taxpayers, a $33-44 million burden could be lifted, according to 10 years of FCAT angst, a March 8th St. Petersburg Times article. Lawmakers should not waste anymore time or money in implementing FCAT.