Schools Prepare to Bid Farewell to the FCAT

By on January 27th, 2014

This spring may mark the last time students in Florida will have to take the statewide standardized Florida’s Comprehensive Assessment Test, commonly known as the FCAT. Future testing plans are still undetermined, which is causing some concern about which standards students should be learning.

Next year was supposed to mark the start of Partnership for the Assessment of College and Careers (PARCC) testing, but plans have changed because officials waited too long to pitch the new testing program to the Florida legislature, officials said.

Jackie Johnson, Alachua County Public Schools spokeswoman, said preparing for the FCAT this year is a little awkward.

The school board has already spent millions of dollars on textbooks and training to implement Common Core, the new set of state standards that was supposed to help students prepare for the PARCC test.

“This is kind of a weird year where kids are taking the FCAT, but they’ve also had a few years of Common Core,” Johnson said.

Columbia County School District Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum Kitty McElhaney, said her county has been teaching a blend of both standards.

While there is cause for some concern on preparing the students for the test this year, McElhaney said she isn’t concerned that the new curriculum in some textbooks will hinder student’s chances on the FCAT.

“Textbooks are a tool that we use,” McElhaney said. “They don’t dictate what we teach. It’s actually the standards that dictate what we teach and that is what our teachers are working on. “

Linda Johns, director of curriculum and accountability for the Union County School District, said textbooks have not been switched over to the Common Core in her county.

Johns said that no matter what tests the state decides to use, Union County’s main focus this year is the FCAT.

All three school board officials said they’re working hard to prepare students for the upcoming test.

“We don’t really work on agonizing and concerning ourselves on what the assessments are going to be for the next year,” Johns said. “We’re just doing our best to prepare our students to do well on assessments for this year.”

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