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State senator calls for time-out on FCAT

4:13 PM, Aug 20, 2012   |    comments
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- As students headed back to school in most school districts Monday, one state lawmaker was calling for a time-out on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.

Sen. Bill Montford says there have been too many recent errors with the FCAT, so it's time to stop using the assessment test and tabulating school grades with the results.

This year, a scoring mistake on the FCAT affected the grades of more than 200 schools.

RELATED: Fla. Gov. Scott wants to look at changes to FCAT

A lot of parents are also upset with a tougher grading formula that led to lower scores for students and lower grades for many schools this year.

Sen. Montford, a former school district superintendent, says Florida has made tremendous progress on higher accountability and goals for students over the past decade, but now parents and educators are questioning the accuracy of the FCAT.

Montford thinks Florida is trying to do too much, too fast with the test.

FCAT scores show improvement in some areas

"What has happened in the last 12 months has caused parents and others to question the validity of the test and that's why I say we need to slow down and let's make sure we dot every "I" and cross every "T" and make sure we're not moving too fast."

"The problem is we've been overwhelmed with the changes and overwhelmed with the speed at which we're moving. None of us want to retreat. School superintendents, school board members, the Senate and others, we do not want to retreat and we will not retreat. But we have to be realistic in understanding just exactly how much our school systems can absorb, how much change our students can handle as well as the teachers."

There's certainly a lot at stake with the FCAT. It's now used to help determine a teacher's salary, as well as tabulate school grades, school bonuses and whether students can be promoted.

In two years, Florida will phase out the FCAT and move to common core standards - a system using the same assessment test as 44 other states. Montford says that makes this the right time to halt the FCAT, fine tune it, and get ready for the common core standards.

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