FCAT Goes High-Tech

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It's a new computer-based version of the test. It's the wave of the future, improving security, eliminating a paper trail and making students feel more comfortable when taking the FCAT.

The paper and pencil will be a thing of the past when students like Jessica Johnson sit down to take the FCAT, replacing the traditional ways will be the mouse and keyboard.

"I am excited to try something new," said Jessica Johnson, who will be taking the exam.

Paul Felsch is Leon County's Director of Testing and Assessment and said, "Online testing is the wave of the future. This is coming to other states and we’re already doing this."

Three Leon County Schools, Chiles, Leon and Godby, are the first in our area to administer the test this new way, the schools volunteering to offer the computer based test to students retaking the state mandated exam.

"I think the students that do this will find it will benefit and I think they'll probably do better then they would with pen and pencil," said Bill Cunningham, who is administering the new version of the test.

Some students including Johnson agree, "Students are always on the computer so it will help them rather than looking at the paper."

Surfing the net won't be an option when students take the test, as security measures create a closed environment.

"They will have randomize questions in other words, students will not see the question in the same order", said Cunningham.

Felsch says the computer version of the test will speed up the grading process and may soon eliminate the paper trail.

Educators say there are a few challenges with the new version of the test including having enough computers for all students to re take the exam, and the ultimate fear, computers crashing during the test.

Staff have already been trained in administering the test, and next week students will have the chance to take a practice FCAT on the computer. If they don't feel comfortable with the technology, they can opt out of retaking the test on the computer.