Sunshine State snafu
The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) is the centerpiece of one of the best state accountability systems in the country, but it's far from perfect. Education officials in Tallahassee discovered last week that third-grade reading scores from the 2006 FCAT were inflated by human scoring errors, allowing many students who should have been held back to move on to fourth grade. Predictably, the glitch has fanned the anti-testing flames. Dan Gelber, Democratic leader of the Florida House, said that this error "confirms the danger of overemphasizing a single test." Bob Schaeffer, education director of the ill-named FairTest, agreed, saying that "Florida is a serial mis-user of test scores," and that accountability programs should weigh exam results against other evaluative factors. Gadfly's advice: Straighten out the kinks in FCAT scoring, make sure the mistakes don't happen again, and get back to providing Florida's kids a strong curriculum and holding them, and their schools, accountable for learning it.
"Last year's problem overshadows rising 2007 FCAT scores," by Bill Kaczor, Associated Press, May 23, 2007
"Despite mistakes, FCAT isn't going away," by Nirvi Shah and Tania deLuzuriaga, Miami Herald, May 25, 2007