In Defense of the FCAT

I’ve been pretty critical of Florida’s high stakes testing.  Matthew Ladner wrote a guest op/ed for the Ocala Star-Banner defending the FCAT and in it he makes some good points that FCAT opponents should consider  Laudner is the senior adviser for policy and research at the Foundation for Excellence in Education.  He wrote:

A recent problem with the FCAT writing test drew a great deal of attention from FCAT opponents. We should take care not to miss the forest for the trees. NAEP gave a writing exam in 1998 (just before Florida’s reforms) and again in 2007. Florida students achieved the largest gain of any state and more than three times larger than the national average during this period.

Sadly, leading the nation in writing gains on the highly respected NAEP exam seems to mean little to Florida’s testing opponents. One of the anti-testing groups seized upon the FCAT writing dispute to proclaim: “These abysmal FCAT Writes scores are proof that Tallahassee’s ‘education reforms’ are an unmitigated disaster.”

Against the highly credible NAEP score gains, testing opponents offer up a grab-bag of complaints and recently even a publicity stunt. A college-educated testing opponent recently claimed to have taken and failed a test similar to the 10th-grade FCAT. Whether this person actually took anything like the FCAT, or actually made any effort, is unknown but of little consequence. The vast majority of Florida 10th-graders did pass the FCAT on their first try last year.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan once stated that while everyone is entitled to their own opinion, no one is entitled to their own facts. Here are some facts: Since the advent of testing and reform, the nation’s most highly respected measure of academic achievement shows strong gains in Florida. Standardized test scores and graduation rates have both improved substantially since the late 1990s, which means Florida’s residents and students are getting more of what they want, need and deserve from the public education system today.

Be sure to read the rest.

HT: Jay P. Greene Blog