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Schools ready for FCAT testing next week

By Staff | Mar 7, 2009

A year of preparation in the classroom will be tested next week when Lee County students take Florida’s Comprehensive Assessment Test or FCAT — the state’s comprehensive test measuring the progress of both students and teachers.
Teachers use the Florida Sunshine State Standards in lessons throughout the school year, which in turn are included on the FCAT when students are tested in reading, mathematics and science.
School Board Member Robert Chilmonik said local schools are prepared for the exam.
“I feel the students are ready,” said Chilmonik. “We will have a good solid year on FCAT, and I hope our reading improves on 10th grade level, and I expect a strong performance.”
While he is optimistic that students will perform well on the FCAT, Chilmonik said the only unknown is student performance in light of the district having to tighten its belt because of the current economic circumstances.
Vice-chairman of the school board, Steve Teuber, attended the A+ celebration at Diplomat Elementary on Friday afternoon. He said that reading has been emphasized in the schools and that teachers are working hard to make sure that children perform well.
“I know our teachers are doing everything they can to make us perform well,” said Teuber.

Understanding
the FCAT exam
Before the FCAT Writing last month, Dr. Richard Itzen, director of Accountability, Research and Continuous Improvement, said that students in the Lee County School District were ready for the exam.
“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 FCAT Writing test, administered in Lee County last month, asked students to write an essay on a given topic. The other tests, Reading, Mathematics and Science, are in multiple choice form.
Students need to pass the upcoming tests to graduate high school.
Social studies isn’t tested on the FCAT but a bill proposed to the Florida Legislature could add it as a tested area by the year 2014.
Elementary scores in Lee County continue to be higher than in middle or high school, according to data from the Florida Department of Education.
Seventy-seven percent of elementary students in Lee scored a 3 out of 6 or higher on the FCAT Reading — considered passing by the state. For the FCAT Mathematics, Lee County had 78 percent of students passing.
Scores decrease as Lee County students grow older. In the sixth grade scores in reading dropped from 77 to 62 percent and in math from 78 to 50 percent.
By the time students are in high school and take the exams in grade 10 the scores plummeted to 37 percent in reading while math scores held constant at 66 percent.

Cape Coral schools
prepare for FCAT
Schools around Cape Coral are gearing up for the FCAT test next week. They’re also holding celebrations to give their students an intellectual break before the big day.
Linda Caruso, principal of Diplomat Elementary School, said that students have been following the Sunshine Standards all year.
“Our teachers don’t do a total revamp of the curriculum and standards,” said Caruso. “If you are teaching standards the kids only need a little bit of test taking skills.”
A main difference between elementary students and others is their experience with taking standardized tests. In many cases elementary students need instruction in how to bubble in an answer, she said.
The school hosted an A+ celebration on Friday where every student was involved in activities to recognize their hard work in preparing for the exam.
“We are an A school and we are ranked very high in the West Zone,” said Caruso. “Our students are making adequate learning gains and we want that to continue.”
Trafalgar Elementary also hosted an FCAT pep rally on Friday afternoon to motivate third, fourth and fifth grades for the exam.
Aaron Smoly, teacher at Cape Coral High School, said that students are ready for the all- day test on March 10.
“The students know it is so important because if they don’t do well they don’t graduate,” said Smoly. “Students that have already passed it don’t have to show up.”
For the second part of the school year students at Cape High have been working extra hard to prepare for the FCAT. Smoly said the school has offered after-school tutoring in all subject areas for those students who need additional help. They also complete sample tests and discuss test taking strategies.
For more information on test scores or the test, visit the Florida Department of Education at www.fldoe.org