FCAT: More problems to look into
A state committee wants an independent group to look into the fairness of an FCAT system that holds students in different grade levels to very different standards. Led by Hillsborough County, a chorus of school leaders across the state say the standards for high school students may be higher than is reasonable.
Officials at the state Department of Education acknowledged Tuesday that a drop-off in student performance on the test at the older grade levels is a problem. But they stopped short of placing the blame on the FCAT cut scores that determine whether students meet grade-level expectations.
The discussion came at a meeting of a high-profile FCAT advisory group, which was established after state officials disclosed that a scoring error artificially inflated last year's third-grade reading scores. The group had already asked the Buros Center for Testing at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln to look into the third-grade issue, and now will add the high school concerns to their FCAT review.
Meanwhile, education commissioner Jeanine Blomberg plans to move forward with a proposal to lessen the sting of existing state penalties for schools were a majority of the lowest-performing students fail to make gains on the FCAT. Schools that make significant progress would be rewarded, even if they fall short of the majority threshold.