FCAT begins Feb. 10
Students in the Lee County School District are preparing for the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Tests that measure academic progress in public schools.
On Feb. 10 the Lee County School District will begin administering the writing section of the FCAT where students compose a series of essays and starting March 10 they will take the remaining subject tests in Reading, Mathematics and Science.
Superintendent James Browder said that students are ready for the test and he expects them to do well.
“I absolutely think they are ready because their teachers are ready. The success we’ve experienced in FCAT is solely about quality teachers and principals running great schools,” said Browder. “I certainly believe that our teachers will shine in the state of Florida.”
Each of the tests, with the exception of the writing section, are a requirement for graduation and based on how students perform can make the difference in school funding or the amount of bonus pay a specific teacher receives.
Students need a score of 3 or higher out of 6 to pass the test.
In 2008, 37 percent of Lee County students earned a 3 or higher on reading, 66 percent in mathematics and 76 percent earned higher than a 3.5 in writing, according to the Florida Department of Education.
The science exam was only introduced two years ago and is administered to students in grade 11. Last year 29 percent of Lee County students earned a 3 or higher.
Currently there isn’t an FCAT social studies test, but bills have been introduced to the Florida Legislature that could open this subject area for testing as early as 2014.
Third grade FCAT scores are increasing steadily each year in Lee County. From 2004 to 2008, elementary students scoring over a 3 increased from 67 to 77 percent in Reading and 64 to 78 percent in Mathematics.
According to Dr. Richard Itzen, district director of Accountability, Research and Continuous Improvement, students have been preparing for the FCAT tests all year.
“Our curriculum teaches the Sunshine State Standards. If we are doing our job and teaching our kids those standards throughout the year, they should be well prepared for the test,” said Itzen.
The state provides sample test materials for reading, mathematics and science exams in March, but not for the writing test. These sample materials acclimate students to the test format.
“The only practice for the test is essay writing, that is part of a regular curriculum,” said Itzen.