FCAT Season Begins This Week with Lots of Changes, More Pressure

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Florida's testing season kicks into high gear Monday, marking a springtime tradition for 2.2 million students in public school.

But this year brings more changes, and more pressure, than usual. Most significantly, the scoring system used this year for the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test will be tougher — meaning marks are expected to drop.

The percentage of third-graders reading at grade level on FCAT, for example, could drop from 72 percent last year to 57 percent this year, the state estimated. Such declines will have a ripple effect on students, schools and now teachers. FCAT scores are used to make class assignments, decide students' promotion and graduation, and grade each school. And now under a new state law, the scores will help evaluate teachers.

But the first fallout is expected when scores come in, and some students see they've done worse than in the past. Schools are braced for parents' questions.

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