Florida Changes Standardized Test Grading System, Everybody Fails

Categories: Broward News
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The state's release of preliminary results of FCAT testing has put Florida education reporters in a tizzy the past few days, and there have been impressive stories written all over the place about the debacle. In case you don't want to wade through a million inches of copy to understand the craziness, here's a summary of what's happened so far.

Florida public school students take the multisection test every year. Last year, about 81 percent of fourth graders passed the writing section. This year, the state made the grading system harder and took into account things like punctuation and grammar, and only 27 percent passed, prompting officials, schools, and parents to crap themselves in panic.

Tuesday, officials announced a temporary solution to the low grades -- change the scale so more students pass. Until now, schools have been graded based on how many students score a 4 or better on the scale that goes up to 6, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Officials announced yesterday that this year, schools will be graded based on how many students got a 3 or better.

"Those new standards for the writing test were much more rigorous than what we had been using in the past," said Lee County Schools Superintendent Joseph Burke. "Those new standards included important conventions of writing, such as sentence structure, punctuation, spelling, grammar, etc. Those items were not graded in the previous FCAT Writes tests."

The Miami Herald reported that Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson "acknowledged Tuesday that teachers were not adequately prepared for how strictly the tests were going to be graded this year, and said he 'realized that overnight, students didn't just become bad writers.'"

From the way things are being described, it sounds like they've been bad writers the whole time.

The grading shift will mitigate any drastic changes in school grading this year, but that's still left a lot of people arguing about what the numbers mean -- were the tests graded on an unfair rubric? What the hell were the "writing tests" measuring before? Is the state's education accountability system flawed? What's the point of testing if you say the bad numbers don't count? Why don't Florida fourth graders know how to write things?

The Herald reports that decisions about next year's testing will be made in the fall.

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7 comments
Frd
Frd

"Those new standards included important conventions of writing, such as sentence structure, punctuation, spelling, grammar, et cetera.

If they werent grading these aspects what exactly were they grading.Oh I know could the writer figure out which end of the pencil to use.  

Jerseypumasue
Jerseypumasue

The kids in FL are not illiterate and the teachers were just doing what they were told....concentrating on the more important aspects of writing like precise word choice, colorful vocabulary, specific details.  Sentence structure, spelling, grammar and punctuation are "conventions" and we not graded as stringently.  This is how it has been since "Florida Writes" which then became FCAT Writing was graded. I should know, I was new to FL and just hired to teach 4th grade in 1992 when it all began. Now this year, someone decided to pull the rug out from under the kids, teachers, and schools in FL.....amazing.

Patty De Biase
Patty De Biase

The Republicans with their "No Child Left Behind Act" has d...one just the opposite, hoping to create an image of failure in order to privatize the system to make a profit . Thank  God  the  parents  that  went to Tallahassee to  fight  and  won put  an end to that thought. We can  not  play  with our  kids lives, this  must  stop.

William Siegel
William Siegel

Only Florida can manage to screw this stuff up so much.  This is really funny.  81% of the 4th graders pass this exam last year and only 27% this year. The variance is so great it is hard to even make any sense out of what this means. Our educational system has to be the laughing stock of the County and that is saying a lot.  Perhaps this has to do with the rick scott conspiracy of pushing for more state subsidized charter schools.  Unless you are wealthy or have extremely brilliant and resourcefull kids, they are screwed in this cluster..........

Guest
Guest

That's wonderful. Move the goalposts so it doesn't become so painfully obvious that the kids in Florida school are downright illiterate.

Can someone please explain to me, if the new writing test included grading for "sentence structure, punctuation, spelling and grammar," what were the old tests supposed to measure? Whether a kid could scribble on a piece of paper?

The education system in this country is a travesty, and all the blame falls on state governments for getting suckered into the privatization of standardized testing. 

Let the teachers teach! Raise educational standards! Make kids work for their grades! Enough of this pansy garbage of making our kids feel special because they can all get As just by showing up to school.

Patty De Biase
Patty De Biase

 You  mean the laughing stock of the Country not  just our  county. You are right  about  Rick  Scott's  conspiracy. There  should be an investigation of  who has  stocks in what  testing companies. There  seems to be a big  conflict of interest.

KennyPowersII
KennyPowersII

 Instead of diplomas, graduating ( 12 years of service ) students will get participation trophies.

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