Eliminating Florida's FCAT?

By: Troy Kinsey Email
By: Troy Kinsey Email

Tallahassee, FL - It was only last year state lawmakers decided to phase out the high-stakes FCAT exam in Florida’s high schools.

It's slowly being replaced with so-called “end of course” exams.

However, Democrats said the process isn't moving nearly fast enough.

For high school English teacher Stacy Fabrega, opening young eyes to the world of literature isn't just a job, it's a passion.

But for too long, she complains she's had to teach her kids some numbing non-fiction, that if they don't pass the FCAT, they won't be allowed to graduate.

Finally all that's beginning to change, with the phasing in of end of course exams.

“I think they're a better idea,” Fabrega said. “It lets us see what we're mastering along the way, rather than, all of a sudden, at the end, here we are -- it's an all-or-nothing, 'you have to pass it or you're doomed.' You know, for a lot of kids, that's very frightening; for teachers, it's very frightening.”

Democrats said that stigma's due in no small part to the FCAT's divisive political roots.

They're not happy with multiple end-of-course exams, either, which is why they've filed bills to replace all of it with a basic high school competency test.

Supporters argue requiring students to pass a single exam would be a big improvement over the system we have now.

But, apparently, they haven't talked to many teachers. They'll tell you it would be a big step down the stairway of reform.

Principal Rocky Hanna is in full agreement with more than a few members of his faculty.

There's no reason to bring back the competency test, which in many ways, is every bit as high-stakes as the FCAT.

“Instead of listening to someone at a cocktail party saying, 'Oh, doesn't that sound like a great idea! Yeah, let's bring it forward as a bill this year. We'll call it SB-1006! That's wonderful, yeah, I can't wait to get it started!' Let's have some talk,” Hanna said.

Believe it or not, Stacy said the end-of-course approach may actually be working.

Of course, lawmakers won't know that until the results come in sometime this spring.

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