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Topic: Issue: Mandatory state testing & learning problems.

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Subject: Issue: Mandatory state testing & learning problems.
Date Posted: 12/29/2010 11:50 PM ET
Member Since: 3/21/2009
Posts: 4,835
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My grandson has high functioning autism. He is in 3rd grade, regular classroom. He's been getting A's and B's with one C. He has a mild language delay with a pragamatic language disorder. He also has problems with reasoning skills. Translated to educational terms, it would equate with critical thinking skills.He had extensive neuro psycho educational testing at five years old and in Kindergarden.  This is his first year in public school. A request was put in for testing and evaluation in September. We have had a first meeting and a date has yet to be set for the testing and evaluation. The school social worker has interviewed us thus far. and that is all. During the initial meeting we asked that my grandson be excempt from the FCAT. We were told that the FCAT is a mandatory test and having learning disabilities or autism or even being foreign and not knowing the language is not grounds for exemption from taking the state exam. This was told to us by the principal and the school psychologist.

Florida has the FCAT. It is the Florida mandatory state "standards" exam. This year, in March, third graders are being tested in reading and math.

Mom and I are in agreement. The FCAT is not appropriate testing for my grandson. It has a great deal of critical thinking skill demands. This is the area that he is deficient in. We don't want my grandson to fail the FCAT while passing his classes for the year and then failing third grade.

For Christams vacation,the school gave all the third graders two weeks of homework in preparation for the FCAT. I have been working with my granson for three hours a day, every day to complete his assignment. One observation I've made is that this years school work does not correlate with the FCAT material. His regular classes and homework is maredly different in that they teach very little critical thinking skills. The skill level of the FCAT materials is at a higher level.

Let me comment that this school has been graded as a "F" school for two straight years. Last year it made it up to grade "C". I attribute it to the very large foreign student population. But that is just my opinion.

I have searched for a school advocate, but the service has been discontinued at the District level. Hiring an advocate is beyond our means. I have contacted "Parent to Parent" of Miami and they told me I am very familiar with the "laws" and would be a fine advocate for my grandson. I'm flattered, but not impressed. Actually it's discouraging.

What in the world is going on with the school system? Even with testing accommodations, my grandson would not be able to pass the FCAT.

What are they doing with students that have learning disabilities?

The more I write this, the more I think there is a missing piece. I plan to call the Special Education Department at the District level and speak to the director. I find it hard to believe that they are discriminating against students with diagnoses' of Autism and learning problems.

I believe my granson belongs in a regular classroom with accommodations. I think he needs extra help with critical thinking skills. I expect that he will have them by next school year. This is no consolation to me.

This whole thing makes little sense to me. I am a reasonable person, but failing a student on the basis of a disability is not reasonable. In fact, it is illegal.

I welcome any questions, comments and advise you have.

Thanks so much for reading my post.



Subject: Florida teacher of 36 years
Date Posted: 12/30/2010 10:08 AM ET
Member Since: 11/6/2005
Posts: 642
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Your post addresses all of the problems that teachers and administrators have been bringing up since the inception of FCAT.  It wasn't until recently that students with certain disabilities were included in the school grade, thereby the increased emphasis and pressure on these students, their teachers, and the school and county administrators.  FCAT is a state-mandated and legislated test, and it's not going away.  With the funds we received from Race to the Top, testing is only going to increase and will eventually  be based upon national standards (google Common Core Standards).  Having said that, please understand that I believe teachers should be held accountable as should students, but it should not rest on one test as it does in third grade.

 Your grandson's teacher should also be keeping a portfolio of his work that, if he is capable, would show the quality of work he does in reading in the classroom (if he has passing grades of an A or B, this would help your case) and it should be specific to the  Sunshine State Standards. (I don't remember if they are using the new Next Generation Sunshine State Standards this year or not.  His teacher can tell you.)   Also inquire to see if he would qualify for 504 status, which would allow for testing accomodations (such as extended time) even if he hasn't received and ESE designation.  I don't guarantee that this will be given, but it is worth a try, especially if you doctor's reports.  Good luck.

Last Edited on: 12/31/10 7:31 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 12/30/2010 9:34 PM ET
Member Since: 3/21/2009
Posts: 4,835
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Thanks so much for your advise! I'm going to make sure that my grandson gets accommodations either through ESE or section 504 status. And I will make sure we speak to his teachers about them maintaining a good portfolio and that my grandson's work be sunshine state standards specific. I'm wondering why my grandson's needs were not proactively adressed by the school when he was first admitted? The school is a magnet school. I like the principal and I like my grandson's teachers. Having said this, I think they dropped the ball. But as you said:

 It wasn't until recently that students with certain disabilities were included in the school grade, thereby the increased emphasis and pressure on these students, their teachers, and the school and county administrators.

The only kind of pressure my grandson is experiencing is the result of his disability not being addressed on the academic level.

I'm interested to know what kind of pressures teachers/administrators do have relating to this.







Last Edited on: 12/30/10 9:35 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/10/2011 3:50 PM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2010
Posts: 10
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This spiked my curiosity, so I did some reaseach and just pulled this up. Off of their website (http://fcat.fldoe.org/pdf/fcatfaq1.pdf)


What is the passing score for the FCAT?
FCAT scores affect students in Grade 3 Reading (for promotion and retention purposes) and Grade 10 Reading and Mathematics (for high school graduation). Some districts also have required achievement on FCAT as part of their local pupil progression plan adopted by their local School Boards. Students in Grade 10 must earn a scale score of 300 to pass the FCAT Reading and Mathematics. The equivalent developmental scale scores are 1926 on FCAT Reading and 1889 on FCAT Mathematics. Students in Grade 3 must score in Level 2 or higher on FCAT Reading to be promoted. There are also alternate assessments and good cause exemptions that apply to Grade 3 students.

25. Do students with disabilities receive accommodations on the FCAT?
Yes, every effort is made to provide a level playing field for students with disabilities taking the FCAT and seeking a standard high school diploma. Section 1007.02 (2), F.S., permits testing accommodations for a student who:
• has been assigned to a special program, according to State Board Rule 6A-6.0331, FAC, and
• has a current Individual Educational Plan (IEP).
Federal law (the Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1997) requires the inclusion of ESE students in regular assessment programs. The school, district, and state FCAT score averages represent all students taking the test, including students with disabilities. Exemption from the graduation test requirement for students with disabilities seeking a high school diploma is described in Section 1003.43 (11) (b), F.S.

Youre situation is a very valid problem. I am in a teachers certification program in a different state, so as I read this I was a bit confused. I am kind of curious why Florida requires passing the tests, Pennslyvania does not the testing reflects the schools not the students overall. Since it is a test for judging the schools that is why it should be apparently. Like Florida everyone has to take the tests which comes to a problem for the schools but it doesn't hold teh students back, when it could be the school, the quality of teaching, or in your case disabilities. 


Date Posted: 2/19/2011 6:34 PM ET
Member Since: 11/6/2005
Posts: 642
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FCAT was initially supposed to be specifically to test the quality of the educational programs - then POLITICS got involved and here we are...