Education Commissioner supports replacing 11th-grade science FCAT

I wish the Orlando Sentinel’s education blog would provide a little background concerning where they get their information. The blog reports that Education Commissioner Eric Smith likes the idea of scrapping the 11th-grade science FCAT in favor of end-of-course tests. But the blog doesn’t say if this statement happened during a press conference or through a released statement or an interview or what. So, I don’t know what the overall context of this announcement is right now.

It also should be noted that he mentioned biology as a first science subject to possibly get the end-of-course test. But once again, I don’t know if this was an intentional mention, or just off the cuff. I guess we’ll just have to wait for a fuller version of the story to come out.

See this previous post about legislation concerning the science FCAT.

About Brandon Haught

Communications Director for Florida Citizens for Science.
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3 Responses to Education Commissioner supports replacing 11th-grade science FCAT

  1. Dave Campbell says:

    The 11th grade FCAT is a disaster. It tests student recall in eleventh grade on material taught in 8th, 9th, 10th, and maybe 11th grade. It is a full three year comprehensive exam. It means nothing to the students who take it but does count on the school grade. Released questions have shown that the test includes some poorly written questions based on questionable application of scientific principles.
    Commissioner Smith floated this idea of end of course exams with the standards writers more than a year ago and has been pushing it ever since. The last I heard (spring 2008) the only request for funds for a high school FCAT based on the next generation sunshine state standards was for development of an end of course biology exam. The FCAT test development people have been marching down that road for almost a year now.
    Biology is the logical choice for the first test. All high school students take high school biology. In some districts various cohorts of students might not take earth/space science, physical science, or chemistry in high school. The test is supposed to be taken at the end of the biology course. If a student takes the course in ninth grade he/she will take the FCAT in ninth grade. Ditto tenth grade or eleventh grade. The test is supposed to consist of multiple choice and free response questions. The last plan I heard was for the multiple choice to count toward the student’s grade for the course and failing the FCAT will mean receiving no credit for the course. That means students are accountable for how they do on the test. Free response questions would still be graded and count for the overall test grade but there had to be a compromise so students/teachers/schools could have part of the test results by the end of the school year to factor into the student’s class grade. My only concern is the legislation’s start date of school year 09-10 for the first end of course biology test. The standards and the course descriptions were written based on the assumption that the junior highs would have fully implemented the new standards before the high schools received their first class of students taking the new test. That won’t happen by next year.
    I have the feeling that part of the rush is due to budget constraints. Writing/administering/grading the FCAT is expensive and buying an almost off the shelf test from a third party ought to be a lot cheaper.

  2. Anonymous Teacher says:

    I was directed to your group by Gloria Pipkin. I am a [subject deleted] teacher at Southwest Miami High School in Miami-Dade County. The bribe offered to juniors taking the upcoming Science FCAT is an automatic A for their science course grade if they simply pass the science FCAT. We are probably a C school by definition of the student body yet we squeaked out a B last year and the administration wants an A at any cost.

    The faculty is split on their opinion of giving away academic grades for high FCAT scores. The old-timers, such as myself (33 years) see the practice as a travesty that will only deliver negative effects on the students. It will effect a false, inflated GPA which may affect students entering colleges which is unfair to all. The message to the real A student who did all the work, aced the tests, attended class, etc. gets told their efforts were unnecessary and not respected. The students also get the message that there has to be some reward for academic achievement other than valuing learning.

    I must ask that my name be left off any publication of this information as I need to finish my career. They could easily remove me by not scheduling students into my elective program.

    [name withheld]

  3. PatrickHenry says:

    Mr. X, if you don’t want your name associated with your post, you should authorize me to do a bit of editing. I can clean it up for you.

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