Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Sand Pine Elementary fourth-graders sound off on pesky FCAT

Fourth-graders at Sand Pine Elementary School in Wesley Chapel share their thoughts and concerns about the FCAT writing exam with principal Todd Cluff on Thursday morning.

JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK | Times

Fourth-graders at Sand Pine Elementary School in Wesley Chapel share their thoughts and concerns about the FCAT writing exam with principal Todd Cluff on Thursday morning.

WESLEY CHAPEL — Joaquin Santanache is nervous.

FCAT district and school writing results are due out today. And Joaquin and his fourth-grade classmates at Sand Pine Elementary School have seen the news that kids across Florida didn't do too well.

"I'm a little bit worried because of the newspaper and the 27 percent," Joaquin, 10, said Thursday, referring to the percentage of fourth-graders who earned a score of 4.0 or higher.

That 4.0 was considered the grade-level passing score before the Florida Board of Education on Tuesday reduced it to 3.0 amid criticism that it had made the state writing standards too high without giving schools enough time to prepare. The lower proficiency level will prevent schools from seeing major fluctuations in their state grades.

Some students didn't agree with that decision. Like many adults, they said it ignored the real problem — bad writing.

"Since they went to 3.0, they probably made a lot of kids not get the extra help they needed, so it probably wasn't a good idea," said Dylan Vomacka, 9.

Students who don't earn a passing mark on the FCAT writing test aren't held back. But they get a "progress monitoring plan" through which teachers provide special instruction to improve their writing skills.

If 3.0 is the new proficient, the children reasoned, they won't get that assistance. And that's not good.

"If a kid needs help, they need help," said Anisa Churruca, 10.

Few agreed with the assessment that they weren't prepared for the writing test. They said their teachers spent plenty of time going over grammar, spelling, punctuation and other key aspects of writing that the state added emphasis to in the scoring.

The teachers, who said they attended workshops on the state changes, also reminded them to review and correct their test essays before submitting them.

The problem, said Brian Parker, 10, was having too little time and not enough paper to complete a quality writing sample.

"To write something that perfect, you need at least 50 minutes instead of 45 to have time to revise it and think about what you want to write about," Brian said.

And with just two sheets of lined paper, and instructions to write within the margins, there wasn't much space to make fixes and additions, he noted.

"There was less time than I thought there was going to be," added Christina Bigler, 10. "You have to put a lot of detail into it if you want to get an A."

Most of the students in the classes laughed at the notion that the writing prompt, about what it would be like to ride a camel, was too confusing, as some adults suggested.

"It was easy," said Logan Gleason, 11. "I think everyone should know what a camel is. They're pretty obvious."

Their concern focused on the pressure that adults put on the test, and how it trickles down to them.

"I think they shouldn't make you all nervous and stuff," said Wyatt Doi, 10. "They shouldn't make tests that are that important that they make you fail if you don't get them right."

The FCAT is just one measure — an incomplete one at that — of what kids know, said Matthew Smith, 10.

"They should give us that and a lot of other stuff, too," he said, quickly adding that he meant more ways to evaluate their abilities, and not more tests.

The students said they already have enough of those.

"I don't even see why we have to do this after we have to do all these other tests," said John Wallace, 10. "We do thousands of tests every year, and then we have to do the FCAT. I just don't get it, why we even need to do it."

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at [email protected], (813) 909-4614 or on Twitter @jeffsolochek. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook.

Sand Pine Elementary fourth-graders sound off on pesky FCAT 05/17/12 [Last modified: Thursday, May 17, 2012 10:57pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Astros rout Yankees to force Game 7 of AL Championship Series

    Ml

    HOUSTON — Justin Verlander pitched seven shutout innings to outduel Luis Severino for the second time, and the Astros bats came alive in their return home as Houston routed the Yankees 7-1 Friday night and forced a decisive Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

    The Astros’ Brian McCann, who has struggled during the ALCS, breaks a scoreless tie with an RBI double during the fifth inning off Yankees starter Luis Severino.
  2. Review: Faith Hill and Tim McGraw shower love, star power on Tampa's Amalie Arena

    Blogs

    Near the end of their potent new duet Break First, Tim McGraw stopped singing, and let Faith Hill's powerhouse voice take over.

    Faith Hill and Tim McGraw performed at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Oct. 20, 2017.
  3. Senate to take up AUMF debate as Trump defends reaction to Niger attack

    World

    WASHINGTON — The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is taking up a long-awaited debate about authorizing military force against the Islamic State as President Trump comes under unprecedented public scrutiny for his treatment of dead soldiers' families, following an ambush on troops helping to fight Islamic …

  4. In fear and vigilance, a Tampa neighborhood holds its breath

    K12

    TAMPA — There was a time, not long ago, when Wayne Capaz would go for a stroll at night and Christina Rodriguez would shop whenever she wanted. Michael Fuller would go to his night job as a line cook, not too worried about his wife at home.

    More than 50 people gathered and walked in the Southeast Seminole Heights community Friday to pay respects to the victims of three shootings. The crowd took a moment of silence at the corner of 11th Street and East New Orleans where Monica Hoffa was found dead. [JONATHAN CAPRIEL  |  Times]
  5. Fennelly: What's not to like about Lightning's start?

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — No one is engraving the Stanley Cup. No one has begun stuffing the league MVP ballot box for Nikita Kucherov.

    The Lightning, with a win tonight, would match the best start in franchise history, 7-1-1 in the 2003-04 Cup season.