Two-Thirds of Florida Students Fail Writing Tests This Year . . . Board of Education Solves Problem By Lowing Passing Scores

The Florida Board of Education has a curious way to combat poor passage rates for students on writing exams — they lowered the passing scores to engineer success. Two-thirds of students in Florida failed to pass the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test exam — a sharp drop from the prior year. This was an effort to force high performance but it backfired with widespread failures.

I have long been an advocate of longer school years and tougher test requirements. I am concerned with a sharp decrease in passage rates when the prior year showed an 80 percent passage. However, these do not appear a particularly high standard for passage and we are seeing more and more students graduate high school with minimal ability to write.

This was the first year that students and schools will be assessed on the basis of tougher tests and scoring systems. This move was the result of widespread failures on the FCAT and other standardized tests for public school students. The new standards required basic skills like proper punctuation, capitalization, and spelling. Students had to get a 4 out of 6 on the grade. That is pretty reasonable. The old standard was 3.5 which would mean that you could get almost half wrong and still pass.

The change resulted in only 27 percent of fourth-graders passing as opposed to 81 percent the prior year. For eighth graders the passage rate was 33 percent — down from 82 percent in 2011.

Florida has been given a waiver by the Obama Administration from No Child Left Behind.

I am surprised by the huge difference in passage rate, but I am inclined to believe that this is another sign of our underfunding of public schools and growing class sizes. Our students should be able to score a 4 out of 6 on writing — a critical skill for success in the workplace. I would be more inclined to change the curriculum and resource package than the test for that reason.

Source: Orlando

32 thoughts on “Two-Thirds of Florida Students Fail Writing Tests This Year . . . Board of Education Solves Problem By Lowing Passing Scores

  1. Protesters rally as conservatives confer
    Legislators huddle inside as critics cite corporate collusion
    By Tim Funk and Bruce Henderson
    Charlotte Observer
    May 12, 2012

    Prominent among the protesters Friday were leaders of Mecklenburg ACTS, which opposes reliance on standardized testing to evaluate students and teachers.

    Passing out giant faux pencils and chanting “No more, no more, high-stakes testing,” the group said testing companies that are part of ALEC are promoting their own profits by pushing states to use such exams. They also say education reform legislation recently introduced by GOP lawmakers echoes language suggested by ALEC. A bill introduced by state Senate leader Phil Berger would end teacher tenure and keep third-graders from being promoted until they master reading skills.

  2. This story falls into the “dog bites man” category for me as we all know that Florida has a real problem with their public education system. My mother, for the past 23 years, has been an elementary school principal in a suburban school district outside Philadelphia and is always amazed at the poor quality of Florida’s school system. She says that when her school gets a transfer student from Florida, 90-95% of the time that student needs to repeat the grade they just completed in Florida. It’s that bad.

  3. “Failure isn’t considered a disgrace in many families” Parents are too

    (_____) to be concerned, and the education and testing companies know it.

  4. There is a report that the question asked of fourth graders (the ones who went from 80% passing to 27%) called for them to write a narrative tale of what their experience would be on a camel ride. Some of the fourth grade teachers were stunned by the question, since many of their students, supposedly, did not know either (1) what a camel was, or (2) that you could ride a camel. Although this may be reflective of a failure in terms of our educational system (not knowing what a camel is, or that you can ride one), think of fourth graders that are growing up in one of the rural areas of Florida, or someone from the inner city areas around Miami. Many of the teachers have said, essentially, that there is nothing on their curriculum that has ever lead to a discussion of camels. Rather, since central Florida is Horse Country, some are arguing that a better question would have been to ask about a ride on a horse (or a cow, or a pig, or an alligator, or some other animal that they actually know about).

    Then again, maybe some of them did know what a camel was, but were concerned about using the politically incorrect term, camel jockey.

  5. Ah yes, can’t write, (can they read?) and then give them a gun. They never learned to think logically and intelligently. No wonder Zimmerman; shot he probably didn’t have the skills he should have been able to learn to make a reasoned decision..

  6. leejcaroll –

    “No wonder Zimmerman; shot he probably didn’t have the skills he should have been able to learn to make a reasoned decision..”

    This is a reasoned, and reasonably written, statement?

  7. well lets see a typo, oh my. and I should have spent more time onperiod and capitalization but heck, I figured most here have the skills to understand what I wrote.

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