Faulty FCAT scores prompt investigation
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06/04/07 Mitch E. Perry
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With school grades and teacher bonuses in limbo, a team of school and state officials said last Friday they would soon hire an independent auditor to check an FCAT mistake that resulted in inflated third-grade reading scores last year.

Tom Butler is the Press Secretary for the Florida Department of Education.
(roll tape#1 o.q.”for everyone out there”)

As the Department of Education’s spokesman said, school officials met last week in Orlando, to deal with the fallout from the erroneously graded tests. In 2006, 75 percent of Florida’s 3rd graders scored at or above grade level, compared with 67 percent the year before, and 69 percent this year.

Mark Pudlow is with Florida Education Association. He said it’s important to get to the bottom of what happened with the misgraded 3rd grade reading tests from 2006, regardless of how long it takes (roll tape#2 o.q.”get it done quickly”)

The entire Florida House Democrat delegation wants a complete audit of all FCAT results since 2000 – not just a review of the 2006 results. The letter was signed by 3 House Democrats, including Sarasota Representative Keith Fitzgerald (roll tape#3 o.q.’a full investigation”)

The Florida Coalition for Assessment Reform is a grassroots organization that says their mission is in part to monitor the uses and abuses of the FCAT thoughout the state.

Marion Brady is a long time educator who also serves as the group’s vice President. He strongly supports a complete audit of FCAT exams throughout the decade. But he said, even at their best, he doesn’t believe standardized testing can capable of providing the information to the public and parents that is necessary

(roll tape#4 o.q.”missing the whole point”)

The Administrator for the Education Department’s office of assessment and school performance, Cornelia Orr, has publicly said her staff thought everything was okay with the 3rd grade scores when reviewed the 2006 results last year. But when 3rd graders didn’t do as well this year, they reviewed the test again.

Orr told the Orlando Sentinel that her department believes the 2006 test was easier than this year’s test, or the 2005 exam, because of the placement of certain questions. Also known as so-called ‘anchor questions’ that are weighted more heavily to affect students' final scores.

State Department of Education Spokesman Tom Butler attempts to break down what ‘anchor questions are (roll tape#4 o.q. “the scores a bit “)

State Education Commissioner Jeanine Blomberg also has been quoted as saying that some of those anchor questions might have been placed at the end of the tests – but in 2006 were put in the front, where the students were more alert and not as tired in answering them.

Such a comment floors Marion Brady, from the The Florida Coalition for Assessment Reform (roll tape#5 o.q.”ridiculous”)

House Democrat Keith Fitzgerald, who’se full time job is that of teaching political Science at New College in Sarasota, says this latest problem leads to the question of why the state continues to go with the FCAT (roll tape#5 o.q.”to do assessment”)

Florida’s school grades, and its federal progress reports, usually are released in the middle of June, but state officials say they may be delayed this year.

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