If you follow education news in Florida, you are probably up to your ears in FCAT 2.0. That's the annual standardized test given to Florida public school students in grades 3 through 10, and because of substantial changes to the test itself as well as higher standards for passing it, the release of the spring results has been emotionally charged and incredibly confusing.
Since the release of this year's third-grade FCAT 2.0 Reading and Mathematics scores yesterday, there has been much confusion about what the scores mean with respect to achievement in previous years. Considering that over the past two years Florida has (at different times) changed both the test itself (FCAT to FCAT 2.0) and the scale and passing benchmarks the test is measured on, it is understandable for confusion and frustration to arise when the stakes involved are so high. (Poor performance can lead students to be held back in third grade, or fail to graduate in high school. School Grades depend on FCAT scores. And this year for the first time, teachers and principals will be evaluated using the learning gains that their students make on the FCAT.)