FCAT fails Florida

Call the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test what you will, but I have a different seven-letter word that could easily replace the ‘F’ in FCAT. The idea to bring the test to a Florida university near you arose when the Board of Governors discovered that students out of nowhere were “just graduating.”

But with the power of the FCAT, they could ensure that students are learning, too, and put an end to random graduates. But sadly, the only thing an FCAT at the college level will teach is the opposite of what faculty has taught us about the importance of experience.

Take a medical student who has just graduated. He or she applies to join a medical staff, except they’re looking for someone who scored in the top percentage on their writing assignment on the FCAT. So the employer tells the med student: ‘Although your medical performances are top notch, you missed question No. 6 on the FCAT reading comprehension, which asked what the moose’s tracks in the snow represented. The correct answer was confused not large.’ Just think of the logic in that one for a second.

Let me also note that is an actual FCAT question at the high school level.

I know for sure a journalism major, like myself, cannot apply to a newspaper without samples of published work, and employers are not going to take FCAT results as a supplement, as I wouldn’t expect them to for any career.

At least if it is implemented, Florida students can write on their resumes that they were the first college students to be required to take the FCAT before graduating from college — I mean randomly graduating. Meanwhile the part on their resumes where experience should be listed will simply read: I have none because I was too busy studying for the FCAT.

There is something about this state that likes to be the first to fail, or just set itself up for more airtime on Saturday Night Live than any other state.

Florida was the first to not know how to vote for a president, the first to ban felons from voting and with knowledge duplicated names so that a large number of blacks were kept from the polls, not to mention the government allowed Katherine Harris to play with face paint.

But the Board of Governors, I’m sure, will be working day and night until March to ensure that the six provisions that will be used to evaluate Florida universities are acceptable. The provisions are based on important matters such as graduation rates, minority enrollment and research money brought in by faculty.

But only the universities whose students can best interpret a reading assignment or figure out what ‘x’ and ‘y’ equal on the math exam will be rewarded. Millions of dollars from state funding will go to those schools that perform the best. I don’t think one has to pass an FCAT to understand that schools with the most funding are going to have the most resources, and most likely will perform better. So when those schools with less funding don’t do as well, they are punished by not receiving any money to improve the education available to students.

I imagine at the college level those universities that get the brunt of the budget cuts will appreciate receiving fewer dollars for their FCAT results. I guess Florida doesn’t remember that about a quarter of third-graders failed the reading portion of the FCAT and about 43,000 students from grades three through 10 failed the reading portion as well. Maybe President Bush should tell his brother the FCAT is contradictory to his No Child Left Behind Act.

Grace Agostin is a senior majoring in mass communications. oraclegrace@yahoo.com