Budget cuts keep nibbling away at FCAT
The latest involves changes to the FCAT writing test. Here's what Education Commissioner Eric J. Smith told superintendents in this memo out today:
Beginning this spring, there will be only one prompt at all grade levels (4,8, and 10). The writing mode of the prompt will be either narrative or expository at grade 4 and persuasive or expository at grades 8 and 10. In order to ensure the continuance of instruction using all writing modes, we will not announce in advance which mode will be tested at each grade level. By using one prompt for all students at each grade level, we will accrue cost savings and still maintain the integrity of the assessments. All members of the FCAT writing content advisory committee reviewed this proposal and unanimously supported it.
Eliminating one prompt at each grade level will save $334,538 through 2012, the Department of Education tells The Gradebook. A related change - dramatically reducing the number of 10th grade tests that get second reads by scorers - will save $703,815 through 2012. Today's memo says 20 percent of all tests will get a second read "for quality control."