Standardized Tests in Florida
Overview of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT)
If you have a child in elementary, middle or high school in Florida, then you need to know about the standardized tests your child will be taking. To comply with the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001, Florida administers standardized tests to students beginning in 3rd grade grade through high school.
Time4Learning, an online education service that teaches many of the skills these exams test, offers this page to help you understand Florida’s standardized tests and how you can help your children prepare.
In Florida, students in 3rd through 11th grade take a criterion-referenced test (CRT), or standards-based test, called the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT). Criterion-referenced means that test items are based on grade-specific Florida academic content standards as outlined in the Sunshine State Standards (SSS).
The FCAT tests students in reading and math in third through tenth grade. Students in 4th, 8th and 10th grade also complete a writing test. Students in 5th, 8th and 11th grade will also take a science test.
The FCAT used to include the Stanford Achievement Test, a norm-referenced test that compared Florida students to students throughout the U.S., but this portion of the FCAT was discontinued in the 2008-09 school year. In addition, the FCAT Writing assessment included a multiple-choice component for a few years, but this was also eliminated in 2008-09.
What do the FCAT Scores Mean?
For each of the subject areas tested except writing, students in third through tenth grade are rated at one of five levels of success answering the challenging or most challenging content of the Sunshine State Standards (SSS):
- Level 5: Success with the most challenging content of the SSS
- Level 4: Success with the challenging content of the SSS
- Level 3: Partial success with the challenging content of the SSS (grade level)
- Level 2: Limited success with the challenging content of the SSS
- Level 1: Little success with the challenging content of the SSS
The goal is for students to score at or above grade level in reading, math and science, which is level 3 or higher. The FCAT writing test is scored on a scale of 1 (lowest) to 6 (highest). A score of 3.5 or above means the student meets or exceeds the academic writing standards.
FCAT scores are a factor in determining if students are promoted or held back, yet there are no set passing score for students in 4th through 9th grade. However, third grade students who score the lowest (level 1) on the reading test will be retained, and they will receive additional assistance to help them meet the reading standards.
High school students must pass the FCAT administered in 10th grade in order to graduate. Those who fail can retake the test on multiple occasions.
How are the FCAT Scores Used?
FCAT test scores are an important measure of accountability in Florida schools. FCAT test scores determine whether schools are rewarded or penalized by the state. Florida schools receive a letter grade of “A” through “F” based on overall FCAT scores, the percentage of eligible students who took the test, and whether the students are making adequate progress toward academic proficiency in reading and math.
Preparing for Florida’s FCAT Test
For general tips on test preparation, please visit our standardized test overview page. The real preparation for the FCAT, and all standardized tests that assess a wide range of fundamental skills, is to steadily build and master skills in math, reading and writing fundamentals.
Parents can help students succeed in school by making a special effort to get involved in their children’s education. You should ensure your children are doing their homework every night and reading and writing on a daily basis. In addition, families can hire tutors or use online learning programs such as Time4Learning and Time4Writing to supplement their children’s schoolwork and help to build fundamental skills.
To help your children prepare for state standardized tests such as Florida’s FCAT, you can enroll your children in a test prep program or buy books to help them become familiar with test formats and terminology, to learn test-taking strategies (when to guess, when not to), to become comfortable with time restrictions, and to practice answering different types of questions.
For instance, when a reading passage is followed by comprehension questions, many test prep programs teach students to scan the questions prior to reading the passage so that they can pay special attention to the areas addressed by questions.
Most states release copies of tests or sample test questions from previous years. Parents can use these released test questions as resources to help students practice test skills and students can spend the majority of their time reviewing the key concepts within the sample test questions.
Time4Learning is not a test prep program; instead, it is a program that builds the skills that will be tested.
Time4Learning is a new approach that takes advantage of today’s technology. It’s a convenient, online home education program that combines learning with fun educational teaching games.
The online language arts and math curriculum comprise a comprehensive program for preschool, elementary school, and middle school. Science and social studies programs are provided as a free bonus for most grades.
Kids like using the computer to learn and to develop their skills. Time4Learning’s educational teaching games give students independence as they progress at their own pace.
Parents like that it tracks progress and helps kids advance by teaching through individualized learning paths that assure mastery of the skills and concepts that makes kids succeed.
Have a child with math and reading skills at different grade levels? No problem, just tell us in the online registration process.
Time4Learning is proven effective, has a low monthly price, and provides a money-back guarantee so you can be sure that it works for your family, risk free!