Since its inception, the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test has been shrouded in mystery. It's one of best-kept secrets in the state's education establishment.
Now, for the first time, parents will be able to see actual FCAT questions being asked of their children, but not their actual answers. It is the first step at making the tests more understandable to parents, but parents will not see their child's answer sheets.
Two years ago, Judy Castillo sued the state to see her autistic son's FCAT test.
"I can help my child learn how to read, I can help him overcome a disability, what I can't do anything about. I don't even know what he missed,” she says.
The Department of Education fought the parents in court and won. But now the state's changing its tune. Parents will soon be able to see some tests, but not their child's answer sheets. Percentages of correct answers will be listed with each question.
John Winn is Florida’s Education Commissioner and says, "Well, since 1999, we wanted to make the FCAT transparent and had plans to do it, but we never had enough appropriations to advance the number of questions."
Critics argue that since every test and every question isn't being released, what will be given to parents will be virtually meaningless.
Florida parents will still not see as much information as parents in other states on similar tests. The test releases to parents will begin in about a month.