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EDITORIAL

Relief may be near for those who are weary of the never-ending FCAT debates.

Tampabay.com reported that the Florida Senate’s K-12 committee recently endorsed a bill that would shatter the monopoly the FCAT has on the grades given to high schools throughout the state, starting next school year.

Florida Sen. Don Gaetz introduced a bill that would alter the performance grading system of high schools to incorporate performance on other standardized tests, such as the SAT and ACT. Also, only a portion of the grade awarded to schools would be based on whether scores improve. Other portions would be based on factors such as graduation and International Baccalaureate enrollment rates. Gaetz believes the alteration of the current standards, specifically examining graduation rates, will help pinpoint which schools are performing below standards. Gaetz’ logic is hard to argue with. “(Florida) has about the worst high school graduation rate in the country … if we’re going to use school grading as a way of pointing out things we need to work on, graduation rates should be considered,” Gaetz said to Tampabay.com.

While the FCAT may be a good assessment of individual student’s academic acumen, it should not be the only factor in grading an educational institution.

It has been generally acknowledge since the invention of standardized tests that no matter how well built, they typically fail to capture the complete spectrum of various learning styles and abilities.

When the grading of a school is based on the results of only one standardized test, the power is removed from those who should have it – the educators – and handed to the test makers and test prep programs.

The FCAT has had so much power over Florida education that it has been the focus of countless articles and editorials regarding the reduction of a teacher’s role from that of educator to test preparation tutor.

Gaetz’ bill should be a commonsense decision for Florida’s governing body to adopt. Instead of seeking to scrap the system currently in place, it will take advantage of the FCAT and create a more complete grading system for high schools.