Rethink the way we use FCAT
Today's St. Pete Times story noted that Pinellas Superintendent Clayton Wilcox said he'd put the FCAT test blunder to good use by studying whether the state's third-grade retention policy is working. What does that mean? Here's more: Chances are, some of last year's third-graders got a free pass to fourth grade because their FCAT reading scores were artificially inflated. Under the state's policy, kids who don't score above the bottom level on the FCAT are, more often that not, held back. Then they're given additional help.
Wilcox said the district will conduct an "individual child study" to determine whether the students who should have been retained last year did well as fourth graders this year. If large numbers of them did, Wilcox said he'll approach state officials about reconsidering the way the FCAT is used in retention decisions. "Let's use it as it was intended to be used," he said, "as one tool amongst many."
- Tom Tobin, Pinellas County education reporter