Yowza. The Fort Meade Leader of Polk County sure isn’t buying the spin from Florida policy-makers on the recent FCAT Writes scoring disaster:
Among the changes to the test grading this year was an increased emphasis on writing fundamentals such as capitalization, punctuation and grammar. In addition, a second reviewer was added. Thirdly, the pool of test takers was increased to include lower performing students, according to a report by the News Service of Florida.
But the real kicker was raising the passing grade to 4 from 3 on a 6-point scale. It’s hard to imagine the people charged with running our state education system couldn’t fathom the impact on passing grades those changes would have. But that’s what they would have you believe.
“When the increased threshold of 4.0 was established by rule, the State Board of Education did not have, and could not have had, impact data that would reflect how the scoring rules changes would impact student results and the school grade calculations,” the education department claimed in a statement released Monday.
Really? If eight out of 10 kids can jumped over a three-foot stick and you raise the height of the stick to four feet, what do you think will happen to that 80-percent success rate?
The larger problem with the bungling of the state’s transition to the FCAT 2.0 is that it distracts from the fact Florida students do need to improve their writing, reading and math skills in order to compete in the knowledge-based economy. Too many students leave high school lacking the tools in demand by employers. Colleges have had to increase the number of remedial classes to bring students proficiency to post-secondary levels.
The constantly changing test regimen in Florida, coupled with repeated budget cuts and attacks on teacher pay all conspire to make the task of boosting student scores harder.
If Gov. Rick Scott wants to teach an accountability lesson, he should start by demanding resignations from those on the board of education responsible for the FCAT debacle
Like in this morning’s rip from Scott Maxwell, observers are seeing nonsense within the numbers themselves. The Leader could be onto something in that the members of the board should have seen what would happen with the new scoring rubric. The reason for the board’s initial change may be linked to who the board listens to most. Despite warnings from educators across the state, the board agreed with Jeb Bush’s Foundation and the Florida Chamber of Commerce on “raising the bar.”