FCAT Practice Test Review
What's the FCAT all about? Well, in a nutshell, it's about school accountability. You have probably seen or heard this term on many occasions. School accountability is the reigning buzzword when it comes to educational reform, and has been for quite some time now. In fact, the idea of school accountability was the driving force that led to the passage of the No Child Left Behind bill, the most radical and far-reaching education law ever passed in America. The NCLB is all about accountability, requiring states to test their students regularly to make sure that the vast majority of them have met certain standards when it comes to learning. Many say that the NCLB was a complete waste of billions of dollars, as it really hasn't improved student outcomes overall, and the federal government keeps granting states exemptions from having to meet the NCLB standards.
The ironic thing is that the states were working on student accountability by means of standardized testing long before NCLB was passed. In Florida, legislators implemented their own version, commonly called the FCAT, which stands for Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. The FCAT tests for knowledge and skills in reading, writing, math, and science. The FCAT exams have sections for each subject area, and students must attain a certain score in reading and math in order to receive a diploma from a public high school in Florida. They are first given the opportunity to qualify for a diploma in the 10th grade, and if they fail to achieve a passing score, they have five more opportunities before the end of their senior year. The FCAT is not just for high school students, however. Every year, every student in grades 3-11 is given some form of FCAT testing.
Student scores on the FCAT don't affect just the student; schools are also ranked and rewarded on the basis of their students' average scores. Many people believe that rewarding schools because their students performed well on the exams is not a good idea, and it's harming schools overall, and in the long run. These critics say that the system has created several perverse incentives. One is that schools focus almost solely on "teaching to the test", so that student's get a less well-rounded education. Another is that smarter students get cheated out of a better education, since almost every activity of the school day is aimed at only making sure students can achieve the minimum passing score on the FCAT. Another one is that schools which meet the FCAT goals get more money, while schools that don't, get less money, punishing the very schools that need the most help. Some claim that the FCAT incentive system will eventually lead to widespread cheating by teachers and administrators. Other experts disagree with these views, making persuasive counterarguments. No matter what happens in the long run, though, for now, the FCAT is here to stay, and Florida high school students need to be prepared for it.
FCAT Self-Assessment Modules:
Last Updated: 04/12/2016