Florida's new FCAT pledge
As if it weren't already crystal clear that the FCAT exam carries high stakes, the Florida Department of Education this spring will up the ante for our students.
They'll be asked to sign a pledge (or check it off if taking the test online) promising not to cheat on the test. The language reads:
I agree that I will not give or receive unauthorized help during this test. I understand that giving or receiving such help during the test is cheating and will result in the invalidation of my test results.
Not that there have been allegations of widespread cheating. Sure, there are always reports of kids with cell phones in the room, or teachers who give hints.
But last year, the state looked into a handful of schools in 14 counties because of concerns on about 7,000 tests of the hundreds of thousands given. Additional reviews led to the dismissal of such criticisms in many of the cases. And a recent national examination of test results by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution largely found Florida districts not to be on its offender list.
So what's up?
"This was something we had seen other states use in the past and adopted the idea for use in Florida," FLDOE spokeswoman Cheryl Etters told the Gradebook.
If kids refuse to sign, no problem. "It is simply noted by the test administrator in the event it is needed at a later time," Etters said.
Some colleges ask students to sign honor code pledges on exams, especially take-home tests. But is this really necessary for the heavily proctored FCAT? Isn't it already obvious that cheating is not allowed? Or is this just an extra layer to drive home the point that this test matters?
As if the kids trying to get into fourth grade, or get out of high school, didn't already know that.