Published by news-press.com on August 30, 2005
Q: I hear a lot of talk about teachers preparing students for the FCAT by teaching to the test. What does this mean, and can this instructional practice have a negative affect on my child's education at school?
A: Teachers across the state spend a lot of time and energy doing their best to ensure that students are prepared with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed on the FCAT.
Teaching to the test is a description that paints a misleading portrait of how students are taught FCAT-tested material in the classroom.
The FCAT, or Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, is a statewide assessment tool administered to Florida's students to track the achievement level of each student in the areas of reading, math, writing and science.
The FCAT is designed to assess a student's understanding of the knowledge and skills presented in the Florida Sunshine State Standards (SSS). These standards outline the content that teachers must focus on in their subject area instruction.
When teachers design their lessons, the SSS represent the core upon which all instruction is built.
The importance these standards carry with regard to student learning cannot be overstressed.
However, there seems to be a misconception among some that teachers teach to the test.
If teaching to the test means setting learning goals that encompass the content standards assessed by the FCAT, then yes, teachers teach to the test.
If instructing students on the knowledge and skills that the state of Florida requires to be taught translates to teaching to the test, then yes, teachers teach to the test.
If preparing students to reach higher achievement levels in every classroom and content area and, as a result, on the FCAT, means you are teaching to the test, then yes, teachers teach to the test.
It is the obligation of each teacher and all education stakeholders to make every effort to better educate our students.
While the FCAT is the granddaddy of all assessment tools in K-12 schools, it does not, and should not, be the center of learning in the classroom. It is simply the mechanism by which a student's understanding of the SSS content is ascertained.
To become better informed on the Florida Sunshine State Standards for each subject area and grade-level, visit the Florida Department of Education, or talk to your child's teacher to learn more about what your child must know to be FCAT ready in 2006.