By Annette Weisman….
Thanks to the newspaper and television reporters everyone knows that the scores from the spring administration of the FCATs have been under scrutiny. They were delayed, then they were challenged, and now they are being investigated. I think this would be a great time for me to explain what the FCATs measure and what the results mean to the students, parents, and teachers.
What are the FCATs? The FCATs were created in 1998 to assess how well the Florida students had mastered the curriculum based on the Sunshine State Standards. At the beginning of each year, the teachers are provided with a curriculum which is organized around benchmarks. Throughout the year, the teachers instruct the students in these areas using a variety of educational tools and monitor the students’ progress on these benchmarks. In the spring, the FCATs are administered to the students in grades 3 – 12 in reading and mathematics and selected grades also test in science and writing. The scores students earn represent the degree to which they have mastered what was taught that school year. (Additional information can be found on the Florida Department of Education website: http://fcat.fldoe.org).
The results are used in several ways. In some grades, the results determine promotion or retention. In all grades the results impact instruction for the next year. Teachers revisit the areas in which students were challenged and develop new strategies for teaching those skills. Administrators and teachers also use these results as one of the criteria in student class assignments. Parents should review their children’s performance, determine which skills were the most difficult for them, and provide support in those areas. Finally, the state uses the FCAT scores to assign a letter grade to the school. Parents and teachers pay close attention to this because it is a measure of how the children have performed in comparison with other students/schools in the community. Everyone – students, parents, teachers, and community members – must work together to ensure that all children have the opportunity and the resources to excel.
This year the state engaged a new vendor to score the FCATs. Throughout the state some unusual patterns were discovered that prompted district leaders to take action. Mr. Carvalho, Superintendent of Schools for Miami-Dade Public Schools, joined other superintendents in requesting a review of the data before the school grades are released. Schools that earn an “A” rating and schools who improve a letter grade are entitled to a monetary reward from the state so it is critical that the information being released is absolutely valid.
The individual student FCAT scores have been released and distributed to the schools. Parents are welcome to pick up their children’s FCAT reports in the school office.
SIB Community School is once again recognized as an “A” school. I will continue to keep you updated on the status of our school and the high standards we set for our children and ourselves.