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Published:June 16th, 2007 06:38 EST
FCAT: Friend or Foe?

FCAT: Friend or Foe?

By Anita Helton

The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test was originally designed to hold Florida schools to educational standards that would ensure a great education to all students.  The question is; is the FCAT accomplishing its job and working hand in hand with our Florida political system to ensure the needs that its constituents are met? The answer is no. 

While good in theory, this comprehension test has changed from a measurement of what is being taught, to a threat held over schools and principals.  Schools should be held to standards but there is a problem when the curriculum taught changes from what will enhance learning, promote critical thinking and spark imagination.  When these things are stripped away is when learning becomes a dreaded task rather than an exciting adventure. 

So what do we do? To improve this process, it is vital that we keep a comprehension test that will ensure students are reading and writing on grade level.  Adopting a curriculum similar to that of Spring Board, which was developed by College Board, would allow this to occur.  The lessons are pre-made for teachers and students allowing for fun but informational teachings that are showing the proper learning gains needed as well as providing for an exhilarating environment conducive to learning.  Spring Board is currently used in several high schools in Florida; however, it would be possible to make something similar for all grades. 

Primarily, the problem lies in that we are allowing our lawmakers to educate our students, which is not their job.  It is their job to create the policies; however, our state educators should be given the opportunity to fulfill them. 

It is possible to turn the FCAT from foe to friend by actually revamping this testing process to do just that - test and not threaten.