Florida Board of Education to consider new FCAT, EOC passing scores
The Florida Board of Education ran into some major opposition in 2011 when setting higher passing scores for the state's revised FCAT exams. The board is about to undergo the process again on Wednesday, this time for a round of end-of-course exams and the FCAT science 2.0 test. Will it face another battle?
This time around, interim commissioner Pam Stewart has recommended cut scores that largely follow the proposals of the "reactor" panels that reviewed the tests and recommended scores for each of the levels, one through five. That's a big difference from a year ago, when then commissioner Gerard Robinson overruled the panel-supported scores in some areas and unilaterally set the scores higher, against the advice of many superintendents.
The end result could be approval without all the angst of 2011.
The board also will consider formally reducing the passing score for the FCAT writing exam from 4.0 to 3.5, representing in part the fact that the state has returned to two scorers from one. This past spring, the board temporarily cut the passing score to 3.0 amid major declines in performance that came partly because of changes to the grading requirements. Many teachers complained they did not have enough time to revise their instruction to meet the tougher new demands.
This score change reflects the effort to increase standards, but at a pace that schools can meet. The Department of Education sent advisories to schools in the summer reminding them how the performance expectations had increased. A reactor panel recommended the 3.5 cut score over the summer.
The items are slated to come up right after the board selects a new education commissioner.