Tallahassee, FL -- May 15, 2012 --
Last year 81 of every 100 students passed the FCAT writing test. This year that number fell to just 27. An emergency conference call by the state board of Education was told the drop was due to the way the tests were graded.
“The increased emphasis was on things like spelling, punctuation,” the state Board of Education said.
One parent told the board:
“The actual joy of learning is being sucked from our students,” Pasco County Parent Meg Fudd said.
Others call for an independent review of the testing company, which is being paid 254 million dollars over 5 years.
Excluding spelling and grammar means tests like this tenth grade sample, which is grammatically incorrect, would earn passing grades.
Again and again on the conference call, there were complaints that the top administrators in this building didn’t do a good job of telling local districts about the magnitude of the change that was coming.
Commissioner Gerard Robinson says the change is not a step backwards.
“No, I wouldn’t describe it as eating crow,” Robinson said. “I would describe it as a process that the board and myself took a look at data, we took a look at the fact that there was some lack of communication on our part to really prepare teachers and educators for the kind of impact it would have.”
Principle Rocky Hanna called the dramatic drop in passing scores a train wreck.
“Our teachers know what they’re doing,” Hanna said. “They will prepare these kids to move onto college. We don’t need all these standardized tests that are causing high levels of anxiety.”
Individual district writing scores are expected to be released on Friday.
Teachers Union officials say the state needs to review its testing policy.