New standards to replace FCAT

Gone are the days of rote fill-in-the-blank exams and legislature testing shenanigans – for one test, at least. The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test is in its last year; by next fall, it will have completely disappeared from the state curriculum. However, this is by no means the end of standardized testing in Florida. As part of “Next Generation Sunshine State Standards,” also known as “Common Core,” a brand new test will be out by this time next year. It will likely be a complete overhaul of the FCAT system.

The FCAT is notorious for editing its standards on a year-to-year basis. The way it’s graded and how much it counts towards a student’s success is often changed, sometimes even after the student has already taken the test.

“They screw with the scores all the time and you can basically never tell what you’re going to get,” sophomore David Freeman said. “I can’t really control it other than hope they don’t give me something lower than a four.”

The FCAT Writing is on Feb. 25 and all sophomores and eighth-graders are required to take it. In this case, getting less than a four out of six on the test means that the student fails and has to take remedial reading class for a school year, using up an elective. As this is the last year of FCAT, the standards have been ramped up; many more students than usual will fail.

Freeman said he hates the FCAT and the remedial reading system.

“They all kind of blend in my mind as one big tired and painful mess,” Freeman said.

Multiple companies are lobbying to create the new “Next Generation Sunshine State Standards” test, so little is known about what will replace the FCAT. Carrie Aune, one of the tenth-grade English teachers, is glad for the end of the current testing system.

“I’m ecstatic about it,” she said. “There’s, like, no thinking involved. It’s very artificial, and trying to break students from that is hard.”

Aune is one of many teachers who has already started preparing students for the new system. She believes that it will be more beneficial to students in the long run than the FCAT was.

“I think it’s great,” she said. “I think that Common Core is more practical and it’s more applicable to what kids will be doing in college. It’s more critical thinking and analysis.”

The end of FCAT is the end of an era in Florida education – it’s been around since 1998 and many students grew up with it. Nobody knows completely what changes “Common Core” will bring in the future, but one thing is for sure: there will be a lot.