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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Too soon to say whether algebra end-of-course exam results will be late, Commissioner Smith says

18

March

This morning we linked to an Orlando Sentinel story reporting that the results of this year's end-of-course algebra exam would arrive at schools after the last day of classes for many districts. Education Commissioner Eric J. Smith sent out a letter this afternoon criticizing the report as inaccurate.

"First and foremost, the article's claim that assessment results are going to be late this year is premature. Students are currently in the testing process and we are months away from calculating the results. Based on this, a claim that nonexistent results are late is a gross misstatement of fact," Smith wrote.

Read on for the full letter.

I'm disappointed in the Orlando Sentinel's recent article, "Test results will be late again, state tells schools," which presents a host of misinformation about this year's FCAT administration.  

First and foremost, the article's claim that assessment results are going to be late this year is premature. Students are currently in the testing process and we are months away from calculating the results. Based on this, a claim that nonexistent results are late is a gross misstatement of fact. 

Putting aside the article's sensationalized title, the chief concern raised in the piece deals with Florida's administration of our first-ever end-of-course exam (EOC). The current delivery timeframe for the Algebra I EOC Assessment results is on or before June 7, 2011. The due date is specified in our contract, which was finalized in the summer of 2009, with our testing vendor, and is necessary due to the required processes when brand new assessments are introduced. Essentially, since we have no past Algebra I EOC results, we must perform something called post-equating to ensure the results that are reported are valid and accurate. Post-equating, by its nature, occurs after results come in, and is necessary to validate the results. Therefore, results for this exam are unable to be reported any sooner this year. The post-equating issue has been widely and openly discussed with school districts across the state for some time now, so that they may prepare for the timing of the results accordingly.  

As part of the process, we have worked directly with our Leadership Policy Advisory Committee (LPAC) group. This group of core superintendents has met regularly with the Department and continues to advise and provide feedback on important education issues. This group unanimously agreed that if given raw scores, that they would bring more issues than they would help solve.

Lastly, while it is true that the June 7 due date for EOC results does occur after the close of the school year for a few districts in Florida, it is critical to note that the Department made a commitment to districts that, as always, we will do everything possible to get the results out as quickly as we can.  

The Department of Education will continue to work with our testing vendor to ensure that statewide assessment and reporting are performed smoothly, accurately and in a timely fashion. It is unfortunate that the Sentinel chose to publish this article as we have only just begun this year's test administration, and the calculation of results has yet to occur.  It is my hope that we can continue to work with the Sentinel to provide accurate information relating to all educational issues so reporters do not find themselves in this position in the future. 

Dr. Eric J. Smith,  Florida Commissioner of Education

 

 

[Last modified: Saturday, March 19, 2011 6:39am]

    

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