The Miami Herald calls out the state’s policy-makers for last weeks revelations that 10th graders across the state were sharing information about FCAT questions:
The fretting, anxiety, even cold sweats, during Florida’s big exam week are over. Public-school students wrapped up their FCAT last week in a year when the bar to pass the high-stakes standardized test has jumped higher and the consequences for teachers and administrators loom large.
For 10th-graders who must pass the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test to get a high school diploma, the challenge was finding a computer to take the computerized reading test and resisting the temptation to cheat.
Incredibly, the state’s solution to too few computers in public schools and no requirement to have different reading tests for staggered shifts of students taking them was to demand that students take a pledge to not cheat.
As one testing expert told Herald education reporter Laura Isensee, staggering tests is bad education policy. “It’s far too much time to allow a secure test to be exposed to the entire state full of students and educators,” said Gregory Cizek, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The state failed those students by not providing different sets of questions for the staggered groups. That’s basic test protocol, followed by the SAT and other national exams. Apparently, different exams weren’t part of the deal NCS Pearson struck with the state when it received $250 million to administer the FCAT through 2013. Dumb move.
When do the questions about state republican education policies change from one’s of competence to those involving ethics? While Rick Scott and his legislative allies are putting cash into the pockets of one a Jeb Bush major financial backer in Pearson, they’re not providing enough computers for the kids to take them on. Meanwhile three more state-mandated online end-of-course exams for Algebra, Geometry and Biology loom for high school students in May.
Perhaps this clear example of an unfunded mandate will play well before the justices of the Florida Supreme Court when they hear the failure to fund suit. Coupled with the double jeopardy burden that mandated test have placed on students, schools and teachers, its a small wonder that appelate court called the suit a matter of “great public importance.”