Okay, kids, just skip that line and move on
Florida fourth-, eighth- and 10th-graders will have to deal with a new wrinkle in this year's reading exam that concerns at least a few educators. In the What's New section of the 2009 FCAT administration manual, the state advises:
Grades 4, 8 and 10 Reading tests contain items that have no test question and instruct students to leave the answer boxes for those items blank. Reading scripts for these tests include updated language to help students anticipate and understand these items. Please review this new language and prepare students for these items prior to testing.
Monitors will have a script to read to test takers just before the exam starts:
"You may come to a test number in your test and answer book that says, 'There is no item No. _____ in this test book.' These questions will have no answer choices or bubbles. If you come to a question like this, move on to the next question. This will not affect your score."
Some educators we talked to say this shouldn't be a problem for students, while others worried it might confuse the kids. Linda Lavery, a Miami-Dade high school teacher who brought this issue to our attention, suggested this situation threatens the integrity of the FCAT results.
"The students are anxious and nervous enough (being constantly reminded that if they fail this test, they will not graduate," Lavery wrote in an e-mail. "They are further frustrated that the amount of retakes has been drastically reduced (due to all of the cuts in the budget) without having to worry about the logistics of leaving some blank! The students are being set up for failure."