Too much FCAT prep?

March 5, 2010

I’m hearing that schools are mandating that teachers do nothing in their reading, math and science classes but prep their students for the FCAT, which is next week. What are you hearing and seeing? What do you think about the emphasis placed on the prep work?

Because I know teachers and parents are afraid of retaliation, I will allow posts to this article to be anonymous. I do ask that you give me your proper email address (which I will not publish) so I can validate info if necessary. If you’re comfortable, please name the school.

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  • Robert Lewis September 21, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    The FCAT was implemented as a way to measure the progress of students against a statewide standard. This would have been a great idea if that’s what it was actually used for. The reality is that our legislators and school boards, embarrassed by the deplorable scores of the early FCAT results, demanded better scores instead of better education. The standards were lowered, the tests became even easier than they already were, and instead of emphasizing better teaching and funding, they emphasized ways to score better on the tests. There is a fundamental difference in the two. No test designed to evaluate the general level of educational preparedness of the students can give accurate results if we spend time preparing for it. That defeats its purpose. At least the purpose it should have had. The only thing that is being tested now is how well a student can perform on the FCAT. It has little relation to the student’s overall learning abilities, intelligence, or skills, nor the teachers’ ability to teach. I’ve read the FAQs the FCAT administration produces that try to play down the prep time for these tests. They are disingenuous at best. The fact is that the schools spend a significant portion of the first few months of the school year preparing for these tests, instead of teaching the curriculum, thereby assuring that the results are meaningless. For our legislators, it’s a convenient tool to berate the teachers and pass the blame. To be blunt, the FCAT is so ridiculously easy, that is should be unnecessary for any student to spend time preparing, and that’s the way it should be. But the fact is that the average student cannot pass it even after spending weeks learning test taking skills instead of being educated. The scores on the test don’t tell you who is responsible or where the system is failing. But if you want to point a finger at why our students’ scores are so low, you should be pointing to the parents, the legislators, the school boards, and the people who vote consistently to strip the educational system of the funds it needs to truly prepare the students for the future. There will be a terrible price to pay for shortchanging the students of Florida. You can blame the teachers too, if that’s what you want, but first you should ask yourself what kind of educators you expect to get, considering the kind of job it is and the monetary rewards for being a professional educator. Shame on all of us for allowing our educational system to rot before our eyes. I think the FCAT should be abolished, but not for the reasons I’ve heard here and in other places. We are using it the wrong way, and it’s doing more damage than good.

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