Farewell, FCAT

Students in Florida have started taking the FCAT for the final time, but what will replace is uncertain. The ongoing process of picking another test has led to lawmakers and teachers asking for a reprieve from the A through F school grading system.

Florida students started taking their Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, or FCAT, this week. The 17 year education benchmark will end after this school year.

There is no test to replace it yet. And the Department of Education just approved more changes to Common Core standards last week.

Joanne McCall/Florida Education Association V.P. says be on the lookout for changes again. “Every single year, they’re doing some type of change. We have no consistency, so people never know what to expect.”

The state’s biggest teacher’s union is criticizing the decision to tweak standards before fixing school evaluation criteria. The outgoing FCAT was heavily tied to the school A through F grading system which can determine funding and teacher pay.

“Whether we like it or not, kids are labeled A through F.” Florida’s Democratic House Leader Perry Thurston has called for scrapping the A through F system entirely.

Rep. Thurston is the House Democratic Caucus Leader. “Instead of pushing so much on the school system, we should gradually do that. Maybe take 3 years to come up with some type of proposal that works”

Superintendents from around the state have also asked Governor Rick Scott and Education Commissioner Pam Stewart to slow down the transition to new standards and testing.

Leon County’s Superintendent Jackie Pons was one of the vocal school leaders imploring the governor to pump the breaks and fix the A through F evaluations while schools absorb all the changes. “Until we have the test established, until we have the opportunity to do professional development with teachers, why not slow everything down, lets get all that into place before we move ahead and create something we’re not going to be able to sustain.”

Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart is proposing a plan to fix the system. She says her goal is to simplify grading and restore credibility. She says she believes the state is still on track to find a new standardized test by March.

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