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Low Test Scores Hold Back Thousands of Florida 12th-Graders


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http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,121725,00.html

Low Test Scores Hold Back Thousands of Florida 12th-Graders

Friday, June 04, 2004

By Kelley Beaucar Vlahos

WASHINGTON — An estimated 10 percent of Florida’s high school seniors did not pass the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (search) and were kept from receiving diplomas last month, despite last-minute efforts by the state Legislature to ease testing requirements for would-be graduates.

State officials have not yet released the final numbers, but in April, they speculated that nearly 10 percent — or about 14,500 — of the state’s 12th-graders were to be denied diplomas for May graduations because they failed the FCATs. That number is higher than the approximately 13,000 who failed to pass the standardized test before graduation in 2003.

Officials said the uptick was primarily caused by higher thresholds for passing grades on the reading and math portions of the test. Others say an increase in Florida’s school population contributed to the higher number of non-graduating seniors.

But some education experts say the FCATs and other standardized tests are not effective indicators of students’ learning abilities and unfairly put minority students at a disadvantage. Of the 13,000 seniors who did not get diplomas last year, a majority were Hispanic and black.

"There is something wrong with the integrity of the FCAT," state Sen. Gary Siplin (search), D-Orlando, an early detractor of the FCAT requirement.

The FCATs are administered to Florida students in grades 3 through 10. By the time they are seniors, students get a total of six chances to pass the test, and have more opportunities starting in June if they miss graduation.

School officials say third- and fourth-graders are showing improved FCAT scores, and hope those results will bode well for graduating classes in the future. They say the FCAT requirement for graduation also helps students develop better study skills and motivates them to pass standardized tests.

But in an effort to address charges that the FCAT test is an unreasonable criterion for graduation, state lawmakers ruled in an 11th-hour vote last month to allow seniors to substitute FCAT results with passing scores on the SAT (search) and ACT tests, which are standardized college entrance exams. The Legislature made the same provision last year.

Lee Baldwin, director of accountability, research and assessment for the Orange County School District, said the option passed by the Legislature was "really designed for helping the unusual case of a student who didn’t pass the FCAT but did well on either the SAT or ACT get into college.

"It doesn’t help very many — it helps a few," Baldwin said of the law. He added that 1,572 12th-graders — about 16 percent of the graduating class in Orange County — did not get their diplomas on time this year because they failed the FCAT.

Baldwin said high school students who fail the FCAT usually have problems in the other areas required for graduation — grade point average and class credits. But Siplin said he is "morally opposed" to the test because the material is foreign to otherwise good students. He said college-bound students are "being held back" because of the requirements. He has so far been unsuccessful in getting a bill passed that would allow parents to examine the test, as well as their child’s answers.

Jay Greene, a senior fellow at the Florida offices of the Manhattan Institute (search), said he has no reason to believe the stories that students with full scholarships to colleges are being denied diplomas because of their FCAT scores. He pointed to the institute’s own study of standardized testing and graduation rates, which found no connection between the two.

"They test a minimum set of skills that a high school graduate should possess," said Greene, who called the Florida FCATs "reasonably easy."

According to reports, 222 out of the 13,000 who failed the FCAT in 2003 were able to get their diplomas under the relaxed rules. The Department of Education said 58 percent of students who did not get their diplomas on time are continuing their education, mostly at technical schools.

Last year, protesters from minority communities threatened a commercial boycott in response to the usage of FCATs for graduation. Supporters of the requirement say test scores for Hispanic and black students have been on the rise two years running.

"When we ended social promotion and raised standards for our high school seniors last year, many were skeptical," said Gov. Jeb Bush (search) in an April speech when the 2004 FCAT scores were released.

"Today’s results show Florida is moving in the right direction, with more students reading on grade level and significant improvement and opportunities among those who have struggled the most," he added.

Alia Faraj, spokeswomen for the governor, told Foxnews.com, the state expects the students to rise to the challenge, and they believe they are seeing that already.

"We certainly expect to see rising achievement that further demonstrates that high standards are reaping results," she said.

Protests have not been called for this year, and Greene said he doesn't think the Legislature's decision to substitute test scores is any type of capitulation.

"Some tinkering is appropriate," he said. "You learn, especially in the policy world, that as you implement a law, you may find that this might not be the best test for everyone. You fix it."

Faraj said the governor believes in the FCAT requirement, but is willing to give students who have proven themselves in other tests options to graduate.

"It’s not about lowering standards in any way," she said. "It’s about giving seniors more options."

in a related story. Jeb Bush has registered all these kids to the Republican party and looks forward to them voting for his brother this fall.

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A true story,

they give a copy of test questions (not exact, but similar) to 3rd grade teachers so they can "teach to the test" so the kids will pass. This year a teacher at my wifes school found an error in one of the reading sections. Grammatical. When she brought it to the attention of the state, they told her (or her principle to be exact) to teach it the way the test said or the kids would fail that question.

and we wonder what's wrong with public schools.

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you know........as impossible as it sounds.

Imagine if being a teacher paid SO well, that the best and the brightest FOUGHT for those jobs......and they also got bonus paid on how well their kids did on a wide range of tests.

Now that I'm fully out of school..........and see how dumb the system is. Especially private schools who use prestige to cover up for lack of teaching...........I wish school was 11 months a year.

I'm just daydreaming now.

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I teach dropout prevention, exceptional education, FCAT Remediation at a Florida High School and not all my students are "test takers". Some get nervous...some just don't have the aptitude for a paper and pencil test. Yet, put these same students in a tech school...getting vocational training (welding, auto mechanics, etc.), learning a trade that involves hands on skills and they do fantastic work and will do well in life...in many cases, making more money that I will.

It is unfair to judge a student...to base a student's entire high school career on one test. I know students who do very well in class...advanced, honors, etc. but just can't pass that damn test. It is also wrong to think that a student who cannot pass this test is only capable of working at a Burger King or Taco Bell...the people who think this have a very narrow view of the world.

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It's fair because the test is absolutely a joke. If someone cant pass it, it simply means they dont get to graduate on time, they must repeat. That matters ONLY for those headed to college. I agree with you that we need more votech training and need to get away from the idea that EVERYONE has to go to college or that everyone DESERVES to go to college.

FWIW Buff, even at low pay, ****ty condiditons etc, they're are still too many teachers for the jobs available. (here in FLA anyway). A new elementary school is opening here next fall and they got 200 apps for every position open. Some obviously from existing teachers, but still.

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I teach dropout prevention, exceptional education, FCAT Remediation at a Florida High School and not all my students are "test takers". Some get nervous...some just don't have the aptitude for a paper and pencil test.

Well... that's a great excuse. I think I'll use that next time I go to get my driver's license renewed. "I can't take this test... because I get nervous and don't have an aptitude for a paper and pencil test".

The dumbing down of America has occured because we give students excuses... we allow them to wiggle their way out of confrontations, challenges, and hard times.

Tough... they don't pass the test.... they go back to school until they do. If they have to spend all summer studying.... practice testing.... calming and concentration exercises.... Winsor Palates... whatever it takes to pass the test.... they should be forced to do it.

Otherwise.... what's the use? "Oh... we understand you get nervous and don't take kindly to writing with a pencil.... here's you diploma.... good luck in the real world".

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the test may be easy to u because you went to a better school or had good teachers if u had bad teachers at a bad school every test considered easy can be verry dificult also some people just dont test well their are people who have straight As and get a 600 on the sats it does not mean their stupid

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It is unfair to judge a student...to base a student's entire high school career on one test. I know students who do very well in class...advanced, honors, etc. but just can't pass that damn test. It is also wrong to think that a student who cannot pass this test is only capable of working at a Burger King or Taco Bell...the people who think this have a very narrow view of the world.

So in essence, you're making excuses for them not passing the test. I suppose you also think that giving them that test is in some way discriminatory.

I believe your view is pathetic. We can't continue to make exceptions for students on intangibles such as "nervousness" and "scared of the mighty paper and pencil".

A student labled as "not a test taker" is wrong. As an adult you'll take tests your whole life. Driver's license, CPA exams, Board exams, certification tests. Can they use that excuse then? Seems to me their limiting their opportunities by relying on the "I don't do tests" excuse.

Again.... a lack of personal responsibility. It's someone or someone else's fault that I failed. The boogey man scared me, I'm allergic to tests... I get hives when I use a pencil.

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I can say for sure that kids are dumber today. The quality of education has gone way down due to PC bullcrap. Kids are pushed through because of factors that shouldn't matter.

There are students now that have 4.0 gpa's that couldn't hold a candle to the education of our parents.

Of course I'm only speaking in general, there are obviously many exceptions, however, I notice everyday that kids keep getting dumber and dumber and it seems to me that the problem is at home.

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So in essence, you're making excuses for them not passing the test. I suppose you also think that giving them that test is in some way discriminatory.

I believe your view is pathetic. We can't continue to make exceptions for students on intangibles such as "nervousness" and "scared of the mighty paper and pencil".

A student labled as "not a test taker" is wrong. As an adult you'll take tests your whole life. Driver's license, CPA exams, Board exams, certification tests. Can they use that excuse then? Seems to me their limiting their opportunities by relying on the "I don't do tests" excuse.

Again.... a lack of personal responsibility. It's someone or someone else's fault that I failed. The boogey man scared me, I'm allergic to tests... I get hives when I use a pencil.

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the test may be easy to u because you went to a better school or had good teachers if u had bad teachers at a bad school every test considered easy can be verry dificult also some people just dont test well their are people who have straight As and get a 600 on the sats it does not mean their stupid

That's what's wrong with the Dept of Education. It keeps pouring money at a problem that they've poured money on for 50 years. It's why the federal govt. should be thrown to the curb in terms of public education. It's why the teacher profession should become both a lucrative and financial rewarding profession. It's already a noble profession, the molding of young minds, but $21K a year salary doesn't pay the rent.

All school systems should be held to a high standard, and measurement tools in place to accurately report the success of failure of schools. We've got school administrators that can't pass those tests... they shouldn't be even allowed inside the school. The problem is, their unionized, so you can't fire them. They continue to collect a check while the students get lesser and lesser of an education. Who's sees that system as working?

Fire these morons!!! Identify the school systems underperforming and replace the administrators, principals, and teachers with competent personnel with a proven history of success. Place an emphasis on the inner-city schools, on placing competent teachers in the classrooms capable of guiding children. Eliminate the excuses of poor test scores, of lagging scholastic aptitude, and the emphasis on high school athletics. Make it mandatory that students maintain not just a passing grade, but an excelling grade in order to participate in high school athletics.

It's time to get tough, eliminate the excuses, and force children to strive for academic achievement.

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for 9th and 10th grade i went to Wilson senior highschool it is not considered great by any streach of the imagination but it is pretty good compared to most DC public schools I will tell u how classes went all the students in the back talking and the teacher sitting in front reading a newspaper im sure the advanced classes were different but with this kind of teaching how are students expected to pass anything

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Hey Brooklyn... I agree there... we've got some worthless piece of sh*t teachers out there just picking up a paycheck.

My cousin is a 4-5th grade teacher at a private school. During test evaluation, the school administration noticed that four students in his class were lagging in their ability to keep up and their test scores trailed the average. My cousin was asked to slow the class down so as to not allow the kids to fall further behind. So... out of a class of 20 students, 15 have to suffer and be held back while the 5 are helped pick it up. 3/4 quarter of the students are "penalized" in order to be political correct and not offend the 1/4 of the class. THE DUMBING DOWN OF AMERICA.

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along with those worthless POS teachers out there just collecting a paycheck you've got people like my sister who graduated from URI last spring and took a job teaching in Baltimore. the ghetto youth are getting some of the best from her. she works so hard and takes so much **** from these kids, their parents and her own principle. maybe it is because she cares too much for them, and expects too much from them, but either way, there are a lot of teachers out there that are just like her. just another bleeding-heart liberal trying to make a difference.... she shells out a couple grand a year from her pocket to have the proper supplies and teaching aides that their school budget doesn't cover... where's all that money that keeps getting thrown at the problem?

y'all should be thankful for them.

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If this test was on par with the SAT or some other aptitude test, it would be an easy explanation to say some people dont test well. HOWEVER. this test is given over and over again. They have numerous chances to pass.

A sample question-

Identify the verb in this sentence: Jim ate breakfast at the table.

A-Jim

B-Ate

C-at

D-Table.

If a kid cant pass that in 3-4 tries, he SHOULDNT graduate. He needs help. What good does it do him to graduate? What good does it do for society to let himn graduate, and what good does it do future kids if we cant find out that teachers havent been able to teach him something this basic.

Why dont we all just go to school, sit in a circle, sing songs, and 12 years later all get diplomas and be ready for the world.

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dont get me wrong their are a lot of good teachers i would not have graduated if there werent i was soo upset with school that i dropped out in the middle of 10th grade i moved back to brooklyn to live with my grandma and she told me if i wanted to live with her i had ta work or go to school i chose to go back to school and my brother introduced me to a school that changed my life all the teachers cared about the students and i ended up graduating half a year earlier then i would have if i never dropped out

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Cskin I've actually had a similar situation arise in a college accounting course. One girl in the class was struggling to understand the material, so the professor slowed the pace of the course to suit her. A tutor to adjust her to our class speed would have been more appropriate, but alas, PC rules the day.

The whole course became a joke to me, so I stopped attending. I would only show for tests days, as stated on the syllabus. Now despite no class time, never getting a chance to ask questions, never once turning in a homework assignment, and destroying the attendance policy, I still received an A.

Did I learn anything? Yes because I studied my ass off and made 100+ on every exam.

The girl in question failed the course because she was unwilling to study the material.

Many of these 22,000 students are just like this chick. They have no desire to study enough to even pass a remedial test, and yet still expect to be given a diploma.

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Dude, the test is so easy even idiots from the Bronx, SE DC could pass if they applied themselves.

I'm geting tired of this its a racist test nonsense. If my cousins and nephews can pass it (while every other word out there mouth is some DC Go Go or song by 50 cent) any one can.

Yeah they were 4 out of 4

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The issue isn't with the kids or teachers, it is with the parents, they are not pushing and helping their kids enough, and some are doing their homework for them :doh:

Parents need to show why it is important to do well in school, not just tell their kids they have too.

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Originally posted by jbooma

The issue isn't with the kids or teachers, it is with the parents, they are not pushing and helping their kids enough, and some are doing their homework for them :doh:

Parents need to show why it is important to do well in school, not just tell their kids they have too.

we have a winner. this is right on JBooma. that's the one thing that has appaled me in all my conversations about my sister and her work: too many parents don't give a ****. at least where she teaches a majority of the parents are in jail on drug charges (they aren't the children of wealthy politicians) or are some other sort of crimial and the children are being raised by grandparents.:doh:

and brooklynskinsfan, i think he was just referring to the Yankee fans.

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its a vicious cycle the parents of the kids eather have lowpaying jobs soo they haft to work late or 2 jobs because they did not do well in school or end up in illegal activities trying to make a quick buck the problems not that simple its not just the parents its our society as a whole

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