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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

USDOE: Don't jump to conclusions on FCAT audit

5

October

Last week’s federal audit of the FCAT showed discrepancies with scoring, but it’s not clear from the report how widespread those problems are. Denise Wempe, the regional inspector general for audit at the U.S. Department of Education, told The Gradebook today that auditors only checked enough tests from 2008 to gauge the controls put in place by the Florida Department of Education, not to “statistically project the results.”

"You can’t read more in the report than what’s in the report," said Wempe, who's based in the Atlanta office that oversaw the audit.

The auditors found discrepancies with nine of 50 FCAT tests they examined, all of them having to do with shading of “gridded response” bubbles. Gridded response items are found on the FCAT math tests for grades 5-10 and on the eighth- and eleventh-grade FCAT science tests. The audit says one of the nine students “did not receive credit for a correct response.”

Auditors did not find discrepancies with multiple-choice bubbles. “Maybe (students) don’t erase as much with multiple choice,” Wempe said, but added “that’d be speculation.”

It appears unlikely that scoring discrepancies affected whether high school seniors passed the 10th grade FCAT, which they must do to graduate. FDOE rules require that FCAT tests retaken by high school seniors be re-scored by hand if students fall short by 25 or fewer points. Ron Dailey, the supervisor of assessment and accountability in Hillsborough, said he can recall a few cases where FCAT re-take scores were changed after re-scoring, but none by more than one or two points.

Federal officials have only audited tests from two other states, Wyoming and Tennessee. Others could be audited, but none are underway or scheduled. USDOE officials said they could not say why Florida's test was singled out.

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:37am]

    

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