FCAT Fiasco
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by Brian Mos

As you may have heard, sophomores will be taking a new test this year, thanks to the "geniuses" in Tallahassee. These are the same geniuses who annually forced thousands of students to suffer through hours of testing with such astounding gauges as:

the embarrassing High School Competency Test
the Florida Writes-Writing Assessment Test
the CTBS
the insulting Grade Ten Achievement Test.

This year we will be spending four to eight fun-filled hours trudging through the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, or FCAT. This test employs such "innovative" new testing methods as

scan-tron bubble sheets
scan-tron grid sheets
straight lines on which we may write short answers
sections with many straight lines so we can write long answers.

Thank God for those bureaucrats in Tallahassee! Without them, we would have to rely on such obsolete methods as common sense and daily observations by teachers to decide how much we are learning.

Some people have called the FCAT "yet another wasteful standardized test." There are plenty of differences between the FCAT and a wasteful standardized test.

First, wasteful standardized tests throw a large amount of money down the drain because of the inflated cost of most tests as well as processing and grading fees. The FCAT does not just waste a large amount of money. It wastes a staggeringly enormous amount of money. We pay more than we would for machine graded tests. We must also pay humans to grade the subjective written sections individually. We must also pay for the 116 (mostly blank) pages wasted on introductory workbooks. We must also purchase a calculator for every student taking this test. This level of waste deserves special recognition!

Second, normal standardized tests give results that students can probably never use. The people in Tallahassee will keep the FCAT results a secret, which means that students can definitely never use those results. Students will never see their individual results, thus making any effort a complete waste. The entire FCAT method motivates students simply to color the scan-tron bubbles in a "Christmas tree" pattern rather than to make an effort to do well.

Third, schools typically offer the average standardized test under merely uncomfortable conditions: an unnaturally quiet room with chairs arranged in perfect rows. On the other hand, the schools will offer the FCAT under unbearable conditions. Teachers will pack half the sophomore class into either the cafeteria (where the temperature is cool enough to hang meat) or the gym (where sophomores will sit elbow-to-elbow). Teachers will pace back and forth behind us and look over our shoulders to make sure that we do not cheat on the FCAT. Not that it matters. We will never see the results.

As we can see, the FCAT is not just another wasteful standardized test. The FCAT is a boondoggle in a league of its own. When I take the FCAT, I will sit back and give a silent word of thanks to the legislators in our state capitol. Their "wisdom" led them to spend this money on the FCAT rather than "waste" it on higher teacher salaries or even a few good textbooks.


This page was last updated 07/02/00 01:50 PM