In the continuing saga of data-bound American education, Florida chose a new vendor whose assessment test Florida public school students will begin using in 2015.The American Institutes for Research in Washington, D.C., will create tests that will replace math, reading and writing sections of the FCAT. According to reports, the new tests extend to end-of-course (EOC) exams in algebra 1, geometry, and algebra 2. The FCAT science tests will not change.
An FCAT exam by any other name...will be tougher than the current test, require more critical thinking, perhaps entail more writing than simply choosing from among multiple choices, and be based upon the Common Core Standards.
Both paper-and-pencil and computer-based test versions will be offered in the new format, and will probably consume more student time. A new language arts exam may take a total of four hours, a full 100 minutes longer than the current FCAT.
Expectations for student success (passing grades) are low. In New York State, on new language arts tests aligned to Common Core Standards for third- to eighth-graders, the percent of students who passed fell to 31 percent from 55 percent.
As long as parents, principals, and pedagogues want to measure, we'll have such tests; teachers will perforce spend valuable time in class teaching to the test. Are there alternatives?