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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Can your kids out-think a computer on the FCAT?

UPDATE (5-14-09) -- DOE spokesman Tom Butler saw the post below Thursday morning and quickly responded. He asked us to pull it down, but we prefer to just give you his side and let you decide.

He says: "The information in this post is completely untrue, everything they (Progress Florida) are saying is untrue. Such as saying we are moving to computer scoring of essays. That is completely untrue. Even if we were moving to computer scoring, and we're not, the test development center would not have made this decision. I think you're lending credibility to what amounts to a sourceless post rife with error."

Butler also took issue with our characterization of the scorers, saying they make more than minimum wage and they must have bachelor's degrees.


If you thought it was a bad move to have just one person scoring the FCAT instead of two, you'll really shake your head at this one.

Progress Florida, a St. Petersburg-based group that advocates for "progressive" principles such as equal opportunity, reports on one of its blogs that computers soon will be scoring some students' annual tests. Here's how it starts:

"Next year's eighth grade Florida students will have their academic futures entrusted to a computer and a standardized scoring test company with a notoriously spotty record.

The kids and their parents can thank Vince Verges, director of the Florida Department of Education's Test Development Center, for compromising the integrity and accuracy of the 2009-10 FCAT Writing Tests. DOE insiders report Verges felt pressure to reduce expenses and accepted the "low bid" to score several hundred thousand essays from standardized test heavyweight NCS Pearson. That company has had more of its share of past testing problems and scandals:

And, unless the DOE pulls the plug on the five-year Pearson contract with its outrageous parameters, next year's fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh graders must accept the same fate."

Check out the full entry. Then you can comment about whether it's worse to have a computer or a minimum-wage employee with a high school diploma scoring the exam so many love to hate.

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:23am]


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