Students gearing up for FCAT
Students in Cape Coral start the 2010 Florida Comprehen-sive Assessment Tests this week.
The exams, designed for students in grades 3 to 12, measure student achievement in relation to Florida’s Sunshine State Standards. Last month students took the first part of test, FCAT Writing, and today they start FCAT Reading, Mathematics and Science.
For elementary and middle school students, passing the FCAT means staying at their level of learning and, in some instances, passing to the next grade. High school students, on the other hand, need to pass the FCAT tests before they can graduate, although some students who can’t pass it multiple times are allowed to substitute a passing ACT score to get their diploma.
Schools across the city have been preparing their students for months to take the test.
Gulf Elementary hosted an FCAT Rally Monday where teachers put on skits and performances to get students motivated for the exams this week.
Older students in high school receive tutoring for the FCAT and also participate in incentive programs.
Aaron Smoly, a teacher at Cape Coral High, said students who clearly try harder on the test than others will be issued a wristband. Later, they can use these wristbands to break dress code or forego their senior exams, and all of them are entered into a drawing for a digital camera.
Smoly said getting students ready to put effort into a four-hour test is difficult.
“One of the biggest failings we find in students is effort,” he said, who explained it’s hard to keep them focused with many forms of popular media that seem to harvest short attention spans.
Teachers will issue wristbands to those students who don’t put their heads down during the test, who double check questions and answers, underline passages and who read the content diligently. He said the school is also stressing for students to pass the newest FCAT science exam.
“This past week every teacher has been harping on FCAT strategies and focusing on different elements of the test that the students will need to pass,” said Smoly.
Local McDonald’s Restaurants will also provide free breakfasts to children taking the FCAT today from 6-9 a.m. Tim Frederickson, co-owner of six restaurants in both Cape Coral and North Fort Myers, said McDonald’s will offer a complementary milk or juice, Egg McMuffin and Apple Dippers to any students taking the exam.
“We feel like we have an opportunity to help support the students in this area to make sure the kids get a great start,” said Frederickson. “We all know how important breakfast is to get kids a good start.”
One tool parents can use to get information about the test is the FCAT Explorer at www.fcatexplorer.com. Scores on the FCAT begin arriving at school districts around May and continue to be sent through the summer.