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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Another test? That's FAIR



Sure, it's just a few days into the new school year. That doesn't mean that kids are immune from tests.

Already, several schools have launched the Florida Assessments for Instruction in Reading, a new voluntary state-sponsored test of children's reading ability. (Some schools skipped President Obama's speech on Tuesday in order to administer the assessment.)

Officials like to say FAIR is a low-stakes exam that's more about reading instruction than outcomes. Contrast that to the high-stakes FCAT, which comes only at the end of the year when most teaching is complete.

The first round of FAIR assessments began on the sixth day of classes and runs through mid-October. In its first three days, 8,619 Pasco students went through the system, compared to 503 in Hernando, 109 in Pinellas and 57 in Hillsborough.

Barbara Elzie, deputy director of Just Read, Florida!, figured some districts are getting an early start because "they want the data." Teachers get more information about their students' reading strengths and weaknesses in specific reading skills that the FCAT tests later than ever before, she said.

At the high schools, it's some of the first detailed diagnostic data of its kind that Florida schools have received.

Schools will administer two more rounds of FAIR, which is grant funded and free to districts, before the end of the year. It's expected to become the norm in Florida schools moving forward. It's not expected to replace the FCAT, although because it's mostly computerized, it could be a trial run for moving the FCAT online.

Now the interactive part. Have you used or seen FAIR yet? If so, what's your take on its value so far?

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:35am]


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