What do you think of when you hear the acronym FCAT? Is your mind flooded with beneficial or detrimental words? Ever since its introduction, there has either been avid support or fervent opposition. Everyone that has an opinion on the FCAT has a strong, unyielding position and feels that he or she has more than adequate information to back them up. Although many argue that the FCAT is an accurate gauge of students’ progress, it fails to test for essential academic skills and it interferes with education.
First off, the FCAT simply does not test for the skills students need. The “Critical Reading” portion consists of reading an elementary essay and then answering questions. However, these questions require very little, if any, critical reading skills. Nearly, all the questions ask to simply recall significant facts or give “the meaning of the underlined word” in a sentence. These questions have little to do with reading ability, which is what the FCAT supposedly tests for. Even the math portion is full of flaws. The 10th grade Mathematics FCAT truly tests for geometry skills, an important skill. No other grade tests for geometry. That means we have nothing to gauge the student’s geometry progress with. If we can’t gauge the student’s progress at geometry, then we are not fulfilling one of the main requirements the FCAT theoretically tests for. Another negative aspect of the FCAT that is most clearly seen on the science version is how subjective it is compared to what it should be. Subjectivity on something like an expository or persuasive essay is necessary, but when a “science” question requires a student to write a short essay, that makes an objective subject like science, turns subjective. Instead of testing for scientific facts, a scorer might become too distracted by grammatical or spelling errors, and therefore will lower the tester’s score.
Anybody in their right mind who attends a public school would agree that the FCAT interferes with the curriculum. It takes away from teacher’s time when they have to teach the FCAT instead of the normal curriculum, not too mention the week off due to the actual testing. The Benchmarks portion takes off even more time. Although reading is imperative, SSR in all classes except math cuts 15-20 min. off each day in each class. Most teachers find it more productive teaching the students knowledge than teaching the students towards a test. Also, the FCAT should not be used as a school or teacher’s assessment tool because they should be assessed on where a student starts and finishes than just where they finish. We can all agree that all the time lost on teaching to the FCAT could be used teaching the curriculum. All of the FCAT skills could be learned through normal curriculum anyways, so it basically is just wasting time.
Opposition to me, those who say the FCAT is a good reinforcer of necessary skills, fail to realize what necessary skills are. They also fail to realize that these skills are learned through standard curriculum and they fail to acknowledge all the time wasted through FCAT teaching. In their fear of kids failing and their attempt to prevent kids from failing, they themselves are guilty of their own fear. The FCAT will never teach necessary skills and will always impede the progress of students by cutting deep into the time teachers could be using to teach the curriculum.