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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Florida Department of Education looks at tougher passing scores for alternate tests



High school juniors and seniors who haven't yet passed their exit-level language arts Florida Standards Assessment get another crack at the test at the end of this month.

Their chance to retake any failed Algebra I end-of-course exam comes in March.

They might think hard about if and when they want to take one of the state's approved alternate tests, which they can substitute for the state ones as graduation requirements if they score high enough. Because the Department of Education is taking a look at making the passing "concordant" scores higher.

The state also is studying whether the ACT and SAT remain adequate substitutes for the language arts FSA, and the Postsecondary Education Readiness Test is still a good proxy for the Algebra I EOC.

Until any changes are announced, though, students can still rely on the current rules. That wasn't always the case. A few years ago, the state attempted to hold students in limbo until it could upgrade its "concordant" scores to more closely match newer, tougher requirements and expectations, much as they're doing now.

Parents, students and educators balked, though, saying it wasn't fair to hold the teens accountable for rules not yet in effect. Under pressure from lawmakers, state Education officials agreed, and left the existing scores in place until new ones were set.

In a memo to school districts, K-12 chancellor Hershel Lyons reiterated that stance for current students:

"Once new concordant and comparative scores have been adopted, they will apply to all students who have the respective FSA assessments as part of their graduation requirements and do not already have a passing score. Original FCAT and FCAT 2.0 concordant and comparative scores will remain in effect for those who had FCAT and FCAT 2.0/NGSSS assessment graduation requirements.

"Concordant and comparative score recommendations are expected to be made to the State Board of Education in spring/summer 2017. New concordant and comparative scores would become effective in fall of 2017."

This session, some lawmakers have proposed bills that would let students take the alternate tests without sitting for the state ones. Others have called for a study to determine whether the SAT and other exams are still aligned with state standards and, if so, have said they could consider replacing the state tests with them.

The issue is likely to get vetted this spring. Stay tuned for developments.

[Last modified: Tuesday, February 21, 2017 12:41pm]


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