School board member: new Florida test worse than FCAT

By Caroline Rowland, Reporter
Last Updated: Wednesday, July 02, 2014, 6:55 PM EDT
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With the new common core standards taking effect this fall, Florida will adapt a new standardized test. An Orange County school board member, though, said the new test will have a higher fail rate.

It’s called the Florida Standard Assessments, and will replace the FCAT. This week the department of education put practice tests of the exam online.

We sat down with Orange County School board member Rick Roach and looked at some of the practice tests that were released on Monday. As we went through the reading portion of the eleventh-grade practice test, Roach had trouble answering many of them.

“The questions are harder, more confusing, and I do have serious doubts that they are written on grade level,” said Roach. “Here’s how they make it tougher, you have to answer two questions on this, what’s the central idea, and what the detail that supports the central idea.”

Roach is against standardized testing as the only measure of student achievement. He took the FCAT himself a couple years ago and failed. Roach predicts the FSA test will have a higher failure rate than the FCAT.

“This will probably be more like a 60 to 70 percent fail rate in the state of Florida which sends a horrible message to the public,” said Roach.

Teachers are feeling the pressure of the new test already. Joshua Katz is an Algebra teacher at Freedom High school and is running for School board in District 1.

“The students will be assessed, we will be assessed, our schools will be assessed, based on the results of this one test and that’s a lot of pressure,” said Joshua Katz.

Katz looked at the practice questions and said the math portion of the test is more analytical and believes it's written at a higher grade level.

“Looking at just the third grade math questions it seems if the reading level needed to understand those questions were a bit more challenging than third grade,” said Katz.

The department of education won’t say what grade level each test is written on. They are asking students and parents to log on and take the practice tests over the summer.

With the new test, fifth through eighth graders will all be taking it on the computer, a change from the past.

Utah is the only other state to use this same test.