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FCAT testing in Lee schools begins this week

By Staff | Mar 10, 2009

A year of preparation in the classroom will be tested this 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, said Friday 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,” Teuber said.

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,” Itzen said.

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 from 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.

Some 77 percent of elementary students in Lee County 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.

For more information on test scores or the test, go on the Internet to the Florida Department of Education site at www.fldoe.org