Florida standardized test results challenged
Yet another problem with standardized test scores: This time, six of Florida’s largest school districts have formally complained to state officials about problems with the 2010 scores of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Tests and have asked the state to delay releasing grades given to schools based on the scores.
The FCAT scores have been controversial for months; NCES Pearson, the company charged with administering the test, was very late in reporting the results this year, and Florida Education Commissioner Eric J. Smith blasted the delay as “absolutely unacceptable.”
Now he has received a formal complaint from the superintendents of the Broward, Miami-Dade, Hillsborough, Duval, Volusia and Leon county school districts saying that each found possible problems in the results and asking for a committee of experts to review the data.
"Something is wrong, and we don’t know what it is," Broward Schools Superintendent James Notter was quoted as saying by the Orlando Sentinel. "Why do we have to be reactive to grades that are going to fall without a quality explanation?"
Smith said he had faith in the scores but would nonetheless seek an independent reviewer to evaluate their validity.
FCAT scores are important in Florida because they help dictate a great deal in the public education system, including principal and teacher placement, school schedules, individual school grades issued by the state and more.
The problems with the 2010 scores are not identical in each complaining district, but a year-to-year comparison, particularly with scores of elementary school students in the lowest 25 percent in reading and math, appear to be unrealistic.
For example, the Sentinel reported, about 20 percent of Broward County’s elementary schools usually see a dip in fourth-grade reading scores, but the 2010 results showed about 65 percent of fourth-grade reading scores dropped.
Is it possible that the scores reflect how well the students did? Of course. If so, it would be just another example of the inherent variability of test scores that today's school reformers like to ignore.
And it would be one of the many fine reasons for ending the practice of using standardized tests for any high-stakes decision.
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| July 13, 2010; 3:02 PM ET
Categories: Standardized Tests | Tags: FCAT, FCAT scores and anomalies, challenge to FCAT scores, problems with FCAT, standardized tests in florida
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