FCAT CONTROVERSY - Amy Snider06/11/03
Members of the Pinellas County School Board faced off at the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club today in St. Petersburg. The hot topic â€“ the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. WMNFâ€™s Amy Snider has the storyâ€¦.
Pinellas County School Board members Mary Russell and Nancy Bostock addressed the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club today to discuss the FCAT controversy. Students in public school must pass the FCAT in third grade, or be held back. This year, up to 43,000 Florida third graders did not pass the FCAT. Also, high school students must pass the FCAT in order to graduate. That requirement spells trouble for 13,000 Florida seniors who have not passed the test. High school students may take the test six times.
School Board member Nancy Bostock said that testing is indispensable, and says the FCAT provides Florida taxpayers with a report card on how our schools are doing. She believes that the FCAT focuses on skills that are important for Floridaâ€™s schoolchildren. Bostock says that Florida students need more than minimum skillsâ€¦
Mary Russell is an opponent of the FCAT â€“ so much so that she kept her children home to boycott the tests. Russell says that it is important that high school graduates are literate and employable, but says that the FCAT actually discourages critical thinking.
While public school students are required to pass the FCAT to earn a high school diploma, students in private schools and those who are home schooled are exempt from the exam. Vouchers pay for some private school studentsâ€™ tuition. Mary Russell believes that requiring public school students to pass the FCAT to gradate from high school may create an influx of students to private schools.
Nancy Bostock said that accountability for tax dollars used for education vouchers will be an important debate in the future.
Though School Board members Russell and Bostock disagree on the FCAT and other issues, they say that debate is healthy and will serve to benefit the students of Pinellas County.
For WMNF news, this is Amy Snider.