Florida Protests FCAT

K-12 Testing

More than 2,500 protesters demonstrated outside Governor Jeb Bush’s Miami office in opposition to the high-stakes Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT). Led by Bishop Victor T. Curry, the event was the kickoff for a boycott of Florida’s tourist and citrus industries. The boycott efforts are also joined by the Rev. Joseph Wright, general of Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church in Tallahassee, representing about 1,000 churches with approximately 850,000 parishioners.


Bishop Curry, who refers to the FCAT as the “Florida Child Abuse Test,” argues that it is unfair for the state to withhold diplomas from seniors who do not pass the 10th-grade FCAT and automatically retain third-graders for failing the FCAT reading test. “We’re not saying our children are not intelligent enough to pass a test,” he said. “What we’re fighting against is what is called high-stakes testing. ... One test should not determine a child’s future.”


In 2003, approximately 12,500 Florida high school seniors were denied diplomas because they had not passed the FCAT. Of the 6,500 students in the Miami-Dade school district who had not passed by March 51 percent were Hispanic and 41 percent were African American. In addition, approximately 40,000 third graders state-wide were threatened with being retained on the basis of their FCAT scores.


Free the FCAT campaign
At a recent board meeting, the directors of the Florida Coalition for Assessment Reform (FCAR) launched a “Free the FCAT” campaign calling on Governor Jeb Bush and the state Department of Education (DOE) to make FCAT test booklets and answer sheets available under secure conditions for parental review. FCAR explained that any test used to make life-altering decisions about children should be subject to public scrutiny. Last year, a parent in Pinellas County sued for access to his son’s exam, to make sure the test was graded fairly and to see how he could help his son. A circuit judge ruled in the parent’s favor, but the Florida DOE appealed, triggering an automatic stay (see Examiner Winter-Spring 2003). FCAR’s goal is to press the state to grant test access to parents in advance of the court’s ruling.


• For more intormation, see http://www.fcarweb.org/