When I taught middle school I went to my lead teacher frustrated. A few of my kids weren’t getting the material despite my best efforts. They’re not dumb, I said, they just don’t seem to care. She looked at me and calmly said, Chris if your kids aren’t meeting your expectations, lower your expectations. Her message was clear. If I lowered my expectations they would be easier for the kids to meet.
Fast forward a half dozen years and it seems like the State of Florida recently took her advice when they changed the writing and science requirements on the f-cat. Science went from a mix of multiple-choice, open-ended questions, short answers and essays to mostly multiple-choice questions. In short they took out the type of questions the kids did poorly on. Passing on the writing went from a 3.5 being out of six being barely acceptable to a three. By the way if we were scoring a test and a student got three out of six correct they would get a score of fifty and fail. This is what is now acceptable to the state.
Parents if you are worrying how these new changes affected your child, please don’t. The science test isn’t a graduation requirement here in Duval County, it turns out the test is just for funnsies and very few students did poor on the writing portion of the test. Though since so many students are below grade level in reading it does make me wonder if the same students are capable of reading and interpreting what they wrote.
Most educators and critical thinkers don’t care for the f-cat and even point to it as causing many of the problems facing education in Florida. As bad as it was before it’s become even worse with it’s dumbing down of itself, how are people supposed to take it seriously. The high stakes testing environment it has created is full of strife, riddled with reliability issues and it’s way past time we got rid of it and did so immediately.