FCAT Dumb Down: State Moves to Lower Standards
Florida State Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday to “dumb down” the rating system of the 2012 FCAT writing proficiency test, allowing significantly more students to pass, after preliminary results revealed a failure rate of more than 60 percent.
At an emergency meeting today and amidst calls for an independent audit of the results, rather than stick with the tougher requirements that raised the passing grade from “3.5″ to “4.0″ the Board voted to go with the “3.0″ rater.
With the passing grade returned to “3.0″ close to 81 percent of 4th graders would pass the test, about the same outcomes as last year. Similar results are realised for 8th and 10th graders with the lower “3.0″ rater.
Prior to the start of today’s emergency meeting, Central Florida Public School Boards Coalition sent a letter to Florida Department of Education, Commissioner Gerard Robinson, recommending a “thorough external audit” of the results and cautioned against adopting an “arbitrary solution.”
Gerard said the poor results had to do with the way the test was scored and that the more stringent guidelines were not properly communicated to schools and districts. He also said, the Department of Education would undertake an internal review “to see what happened,” the Palm Beach Post reported.
Meanwhile, Fund Education Now, a non-profit group that advocates for high quality public education said, the only possible explanation for the dismal results arose because “FCAT Writes is a multi-million dollar sham,” and the “Board of Education deliberately manipulated the grading rubric to impact the results.”
“When lobbyists, testing companies and bureaucrats can wave a wand over our childrens’ work and change it from passing to failure and back again, that’s called data manipulation. It’s also called lying,” the group said in a statement.
House Democratic Leader, Ron Saunders (D-Key West) said, “FCAT may be helpful as a diagnostic tool….. (but) it is now being misused as a measuring stick for how we assess student progress and how much we pay our school teachers.”
The decision to drop the passing score down to 3.0 is only effective for the current year.