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  1. Florida

Florida education department looks at changing alternative high school reading, algebra tests

Published Jun. 19, 2017

Performance on Florida's Algebra I end-of-course exam showed marked improvement this spring, but passage among high school students remained below 50 percent.

That result has often prompted students to turn to the Postsecondary Education Readiness Test, or PERT, for a replacement score that still allows them to graduate high school. State law requires students to pass the Algebra I exam, or a state-approved substitute, to earn a standard diploma.

Those planning on taking the PERT might need to act quickly, though. The Florida Department of Education has proposed ending its use as an acceptable alternative.

A study of the test by the Buros Center for Testing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, which has reviewed Florida's exams for more than a decade, "determined that PERT Reading, Writing, and Mathematics assessments often measured content knowledge expected of students in elementary or middle school," according to a June 12 department presentation. "Based on the study's findings, Buros recommended that PERT not be used to satisfy any assessment requirements for high school graduation."

The department has recommended instead that a PSAT math score of 430 or better be the new comparable score for passing the Algebra I end-of-course exam.

Its recommendation came along with proposed new concordant SAT and ACT scores for the required 10th grade language arts state test.

According to the Florida Association of District School Superintendents, several school district personnel have raised questions about the suggested changes. They noted, for instance, that the recommended new math comparative test should include the SAT as well as the PSAT.

They also questioned whether the proposed SAT language arts score was too high at 500, because it exceeds the level considered college and career ready by test maker College Board. One district calculated the new concordant score would drop its graduation rate by 12 percent, if approved.

The department continues to seek input on the rule (6A-1.09422). Find the comment form here. The current procedures remain in place until the Board of Education adopts a change.

Though highly technical, the issue of concordant scores matters a lot to Florida high school students, and this is not the first time that setting them has made an impact on teens's lives.

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