It comes as no suprise that one of Jeb Bush’s Chiefs for Change even before he became Florida’s education commissioner would side with him on anything FCAT. Commissioner Gerard Robinson is recommending to the State Board of Education that they raise cut scores for FCAT in a move that will assure more students will be failing.
Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson wants tougher scoring for all FCAT math and reading exams and, for the reading tests taken by eighth, ninth and 10th graders, an even stricter standard than that proposed by three panels of educators.
If his recommendation is approved by the State Board of Education, the percentage of 10th graders passing the reading section of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test — which they must pass to earn a diploma — could fall from 60 to 52 percent, state data shows.
That could mean about 15,500 more teenagers could fail and then would need to take remedial reading classes and try again to pass the exam before commencement ceremonies their senior year
Robinson, who said he wanted to hear from educators, failed his first test to show he wasn’t going to be a puppet of Bush. The state’s superintendents – who have a seat much closer to the kids who take FCAT than Robinson or Bush – were against the increase in cut scores.
Robinson’s decision bucks the recommendations of Florida’s school superintendents as well as other public school and college experts asked to weigh in on the new scoring system.
But it meshes with the wishes of some State Board members, who said they worry the state’s high school standards are too weak, given how many graduates ended up in remedial classes in college. It also follows the suggestions of two politically influential groups, former Gov. Jeb Bush‘s education foundation and the Florida Chamber of Commerce.
While just about everybody is concerned about the number of Florida college freshmen who need remediation, Bush has been able to dodge accountability. His FCAT has been the dominate driving force in Florida’s classrooms for a decade. There’s danger here for Bush’s credibility if people begin asking why college freshmen are so ill-prepared in the first place. And then wonder why for FCAT is somehow the solution.