High-stakes FCAT testing begins for students, teachers

Teacher raises and employment hinge on FCAT

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Nearly two million Florida school children will be taking the FCAT test over the next two weeks, and already parents and teachers are griping about the high-stakes exam.

At stake for students are advancement to the next grade, and in many cases, graduation. At stake for teachers this year, the opportunity for a pay raise and the possibility they could be fired if their students do not do well enough.

Governor Rick Scott signed a bill into law last month that links teacher evaluation to student success. Fifty percent of a teacher's evaluation must be based on student gains on the FCAT. The plan will be phased in over a htree year period. This year is the first year.

Mike Dodaro is the parent of a middle schooler and the owner of a Mike's Pizza and Deli Station in Clearwater. He says he doesn't want his whole year's business based on one pizza pie. So he wonders why his son's teacher will be judged on one test. "It's very unfair," said Dodaro. "To put so much emphasis on one test for students or teachers just doesn't make sense."

Jean Clements of the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association says the FCAT has proven faulty in the past. Now careers are riding on it. "There will be teachers who will not be re-hired. There will be teachers who will not get raises. There will be teachers who will lose pay because of faulty reads on an FCAT test," said Clements.

A spokesperson for the Florida Department of Education said the state has full confidence in the FCAT.

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