Monday, March 06, 2006

Let's Be Careful Out There: Florida's FCAT Begins Today

Down in the Sunshine State, they're using pep rallies to pump kids up for this annual high-stakes assessment:
Friday was something of a Mardi Gras in Lee schools — parties and pep rallies and good-luck celebrations.

That's because Monday begins the most intense two weeks of the academic year — the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Tests, or FCATs.

Testing actually started last month with the administration of the writing exam. But that's considered the easiest of the bunch. The real measure of students' knowledge (and teachers' abilities) comes with this week's reading and math tests. Science tests also will be taken at three grade levels.

Schools have been working hard. The "A-grade" schools want to keep their "As." The "D" and "F" schools want to prove they don't deserve those black marks. Students want to keep themselves out of remedial classes and on track to graduate or to be promoted with the classmates. Even teacher bonuses now depend on FCAT scores, according to a new state policy.

There are, of course, other ways to rate a school and to measure a student's abilities. But the state and federal governments use standardized test results to determine a school's worth, so the FCAT is what matters.
There's more to read in the whole thing.

I find myself asking a question: Why on earth have the good folks who formulate EduPolicy in Florida mandating that an annual assessment of academic progress be given in early March?

It would seem to me that it would be best to give this type of exam right at the end of the year in order to assess a student's progress in that particular grade level.

But then again, what do we know out here in California? We give ours, (the so-called S.T.A.R. exams) in early May, when we have over 6 weeks of school remaining.
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