Out with the FCAT, in with the FSA

A new assessment called the Florida Standard Assessment (FSA) is going to be replacing the FCAT 2.0 for third through eleventh grade this year. Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Department of Education decided that the FCAT 2.0 no longer met the Florida standard of education. The goal in creating the new assessment is to provide an exam that would allow teachers more flexibility in curriculum and preparation for the test. There will be a mathematics and an English language arts exam with a writing component for third through eighth grade and just the latter for ninth through eleventh grade. Governor Scott announced that there would be no significant change in test time and that exams would be scheduled at the end of the year, like the FCAT, to give the students a “sufficient” amount of time to learn the required material.
Despite the knowledge of the types of tests that will be administered, MAST Academy’s teachers and students do not know what to expect for this year’s assessment in regard to content and who it will affect. Originally, high school sophomores were required to take an FCAT writing test that, if failed, would push back their graduation. According to the latest information given about the FSA, juniors will now be required to take a writing exam. The main concern of the faculty and staff here at MAST Academy is that the students will not be properly prepared if more details about the test aren’t released soon. Until then, no opinions about the new standard assessment can be given.
In addition to the Florida Standard Assessment, End-of-Course exams will be given for every class subject this year, even for electives.
“Although standardized testing has its place in creating successful students, it’s not a proper evaluation of the skills of [students] or their teachers,” history teacher Richard Cabrera said.
The reason standardized tests are created is to make sure students are learning the proper curriculum for their grade level and that they are meeting the Florida standard. However, the students taking the exams must miss class time in order to sit for them.
“When I was in school, we had one test a year, and now testing is taking too much time away from actual instruction,” English teacher Otto Zequiera said. With little information on the newly adopted Florida Standard Assessment and the End-of-Course exams, MAST teachers and students aren’t sure what the spring exams will cover. If the state of Florida wants their students to be properly evaluated, teachers must be given more details to set them up for success.