Many state’s link passing to scoring a certain level on a standardized test. Florida is one of these state’s. The state’s test is called the FCAT or Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test.Passing the FCAT in the 8th grade is required before going to high school. A high school student must pass the FCAT before graduating.
Parents and children alike, experience anxiety when it comes to the FCAT. Whether or not the test should be required might be a mute point, as long as the education department requires it. In the meantime, it is required for passage.While the basics of scoring the test remain the same, the numbers needed differ slightly from year to year. Most parents and students will be familiar with the way the FCAT is graded. A student is given a number of 1 to 5 on the tests administered. Each larger number score that goes with it. This is the part that changes from year to year. One year, a score of 200 might be a level 2,while the next year a score of 250 might be a level 2. These numbers are referred to as scaled scores. As a teacher, I advise parents to pay more attention to the level scores from 1 to 5. A score of 3 is required to be considered on grade level. A score less than 3, is not passing. As mentioned previously, passing is required in the 8th grade and before graduating from high school. There are a few ways you can help your child get a better score on the FCAT.
1) Ask your child’s teacher which parts of the FCAT your child’s class will be focusing on this school year. School districts look for patterns of low scores and then focus on those areas the next school year. For example, if your child’s class scored low on picking the main idea of a paragraph, the class will focus on that the next year. While the teacher is required to cover all areas of the FCAT, your child may not need as much concentration in the classes weak areas.
2) You can request a read out of all skills tested on your child’s grade level FCAT exam. This information can be garnered from your child’s teacher, the school district, the state’s educational department or through an Internet search. No one knows your child better than you, the parent, By comparing your child’s FCAT scores versus the tested areas, you will now where your child needs the most help.
3) Many schools offer FCAT testing labs or after school tutoring classes,. There is an on line practice site, called the FCAT explorer. Your child can use the site from home, but will need their unique id for the site. The site is interactive , focused on helping our new generation of students learn. After so many questions answered correctly, the child is rewarded by being able to play a short computer game, before moving on to the next learning area.
4) FCAT practice books can be bought at area book stores, and on line. By knowing what type of questions will be on the test, and how to handle multiple choice questions, your child can avoid a large part of test anxiety. Many schools also provide FCAT practice books that your child can bring home for additional practice.
5) Ensure your home is learning enhanced from the start. Provide your child with reading material, games, hands on activities, and math activities from an early age. Research has shown that children who grow up in educationally enriched homes, do better through out their school careers. Interact often with your child,even a toddler by singing, reading, playing games, and interacting. This may seem like common sense adviser, but in our busy world, we often forget that social interaction is essential for our children, not only academically but emotionally too.
Above all else, try not to put any anxiety on your child about the FCAT. Teachers often do well enough on their own with that job. Once , i was assisting a teacher who told her 8th grade class, ” The rest of your school career weighs on how well you do on the 8th grade FCAT!” Then parents wonder why their children score poorly and are stressed out? My children are told to do their best, and I will be proud of them.
Hopefully, these few tips can assist you in helping your child to score better on the FCAT. I am all for measuring our children’s academic performance, but not so much for basing grade advancement on a test. In the meantime, this is what Floridians are stuck with, so we must make the best of it. A low score on the FCAT is not the end of your child’s academic career, no matter what the teacher may tell you.