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FCAT's Back -- And Harder Than Ever

8:36 AM, Apr 17, 2012   |    comments
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- This week, public school students across Florida are starting to take a tougher Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, and scores are expected to drop compared to last year.

Florida is instituting higher cut scores on the FCAT as part of a continuing effort to raise educational standards.

But the new scoring system worries more parents and educators because FCAT scores can affect school grades, teacher salaries and whether students can pass to the next grade.

Wayne Blanton of the Florida School Boards Association says the new standards will discourage many students and teachers.

"I think the main thing now is to make sure that the parents and everybody else understand that these new higher standards are going to have the grades go down some. It's going to affect the individual students and we need to make sure their confidence is not lost because the standards are higher and the other thing is it's going to affect school grades."

The state Department of Education estimates the percentage of third graders reading at grade level will drop from 72 percent to 57 percent.

Blanton says parents and educators are frustrated with the continually changing base scores over the past decade.

"Every time you change the base, raise the base, obviously scores are going to go down and it's really hard to tell exactly how well you're doing if you continue to change the baseline. It is like changing the rules of a football game every year and if you keep changing the rules, you really have nothing to compare it to from the previous years. And there's a real concern out there among the teachers and the administrators in our school systems."

Students will take the FCAT four days this week and two days next week.

The Department of Education did not respond to a request for a response for this story.

First Coast News

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