The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test is shrouded in mystery, one of best kept secrets in the state’s education establishment. Now, for the first time, parents will be able to see actual FCAT questions being asked of their children, but not their actual answers.
Two years ago, Judy Castillo sued the state to see her autistic son’s FCAT test.
Judy said, “I can help my child learn how to read. I can help him overcome a disability, what I can’t do anything about, I don’t even know what he missed."
The Department of Education fought the parents in court and won, but now the state’s changing its tune. Parents will soon be able to see some tests, but not their child’s answer sheets.
Percentages of correct answers will be listed with each question.
John Winn, Education Commissioner, says, “Well, since 1999 we wanted to make the FCAT transparent and had plans to do it, but we never had enough appropriations to advance the number of questions."
Critics argue that since every test and every question isn't being released, what will be given to parents will be virtually meaningless. Florida parents will still not see as much information as parents in other states.
Damien Filer of Communities for Quality Education says, “A lot of other states, Massachusetts, Texas, show the test to parents, and it makes sense. FCAT was promoted in Florida as a way to give individual attention to students, but if the students don’t know how they did on the test, it’s very hard to use the tool as it is intended.”
Not all tests will be available each year. The first tests released will be fourth grade reading and math tests. Eighth grade reading and math and tenth grade math will also be available later this year.