|Urgent fix for Florida schools|
|Friday, 25 May 2012 12:13|
The recent debacle over the extremely poor results in the writing section of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) has exposed serious problems in Florida's educational system.
The days are almost for gotten when the proficiency of students were evaluated by only class and end of term examinations. The FCAT exam has just been the latest in the nation's growing emphasis on standardized testing. In 1998, the FCAT exams in mathematics, reading, writing and science replaced the State Student Assessment Test (SSAT) and the High School Competency Test (HSCT) in Florida's public schools.
Currently, all third grade students are required to take the FCAT reading and mathematics tests annually. The science test is required by students in fifth, eighth and eleventh grades, while students in the fourth, eight and tenth grades are required to take the writing test. Third grade students must pass the FCAT reading test to be promoted to fourth grade, while students in the tenth grade must pass the FCAT tests in reading and mathematics in order to receive high school diplomas.
Very few parents would deny the importance of testing their children to assess their academic proficiency. But because of the exam's potential consequence of failing students despite their year-long course work, the FCAT exams have been controversial from its inception. Some students become so fearful of such a decisive test that their exam performance suffers greatly.
Fear however cannot be blamed for only 27 percent of students passing the FCAT writing test this year, but rather to significant changes introduced to the writing course and exam by the state last August. This proved to be insufficient time for the necessary changes to be effectively adapted in classrooms.
From the outset of the announced changes, school district officials, including Miami-Dade School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, educators, parents and students complained that the short timetable for the changes risked high failure rates in the FCAT.
The controversial changes in the writing test had placed more emphasis on spelling and grammar. These are very necessary changes, following several reports from employers in Florida about low writing skills standards among young potential employees, especially in spelling and grammatical presentations in business correspondence.
Writing standards definitely need to improve, as effective written communication is essential to effective business. However, since strong emphasis was, surprisingly, not placed on these areas before, additional time should have been given for teachers and students to adapt before being tested last February.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 31 May 2012 09:20|