Budget cuts = shrinking FCAT?
If you're no fan of the FCAT, state budget cuts may have a silver lining. According to a list of possibilities (see pages 16 and 17) recently outlined by Education Commissioner Eric J. Smith (left), the DOE could eliminate the reading and math FCAT tests for ninth graders if budget cuts go deep enough.
The Legislature appears likely to cut hundreds of millions of dollars or more from the state education budget this session, part of some $2.5 billion it may need to cut overall because of declining revenues. According to a presentation Smith and other top DOE officials made to the Senate education appropriations committee, the department would put other parts of its testing program on the chopping block before the FCAT, including eliminating some of the lesser-known tests it uses to see how Florida kids are doing compared to their peers nationally.
But the FCAT could get sliced, too. DOE listed the ninth grade tests, along with the multiple-choice component of the FCAT writing exam, if further cuts are needed. Ending computer-based testing for the FCAT is also down on the list, along with slowing down alignment of future FCATs to updated Sunshine State Standards.
Don't get too excited, FCAT haters. There is a limit to how much FCAT the state can nix. The federal No Child Left Behind Act requires every state to annually test math and reading in grades 3-8, and in one high school grade.
- Ron Matus, state education reporter