Crucial Florida School Tests Plagued With Electionlike Errors : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Nov 27, 2000 - 04:01 PM

Crucial Florida School Tests Plagued With Electionlike Errors The Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - Florida's public school students might be feeling a bit like presidential candidates when their test forms fall victim to some of the same flaws that have plagued the state's ballots. State records show there are nearly 14,000 missing test documents from last spring's Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, The Tampa Tribune reported in Monday's edition.

The FCATs, crucial in determining whether individual schools and teachers receive more money, are further plagued by mishandled test documents and incorrectly marked tests booklets.

One or two missing tests, school officials said, can throw off an entire school's score.

This year, the process of testing and shipping the tests for 1.4 million students will be compacted into a shorter time frame, increasing the risk for error, the newspaper reported.

"Testing security continues to be an ongoing task, (but not) an insurmountable task," state testing chief Tom Fisher told district test coordinators at a meeting this month.

Missing or disqualified tests have not drawn much attention in the past, but maybe getting some this year with so much riding on test scores. School officials said it's easy to mislabel or lose a box of tests.

Florida students are slated to take the FCAT in February and March, about a week later in the school year than the 1999 test and more than a month later than the 1998 tests. The schedule change has cut the time for handling and processing the tests by several weeks since schools and parents are still due to have results by the end of the school year.

"I've got a school right now that still has no scores from last year," said Sam Whitten, Hillsborough County's assessment supervisor.

In one standardized test used to compare local students abilities to those nationwide, a box of tests simply sat in a warehouse when someone stuck the wrong label on it, Whitten said.

"The more hands you have in a pot, the more chance you have of making a mistake," Whitten said. "The need for it to be accurate is so important. It all rests on the right person putting the right label on the right box at the right time. Yet they give you less time to do it."

-- Carl Jenkins (, November 28, 2000

Moderation questions? read the FAQ