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October 18, 2005
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Governor Bush Announces Release of Florida Comprehensive Assessment Tests for Fourth and Eighth Grades
2004 test to serve as additional educational resource to parents, teachers, students
TALLAHASSEE Governor Jeb Bush and Florida Department of Education Commissioner John L. Winn today announced the release of the Grades 4 and 8 Florida Comprehensive Assessment Tests (FCAT). The reading and mathematics tests were actual tests taken by students in 2005 and are no longer in use. The release of these tests follows last month's release of the Grade 10 reading and mathematics FCAT.
"Releasing the Grade 10 FCAT last month gave students and parents further insight into the test and today's release of Grade 4 and 8 tests serves to enhance the educational resources already available,” said Governor Bush. “I am thankful to all of the Florida educators who are helping to develop and review appropriate test questions. Their dedication to the review process allows the State to continue to release actual tests, strengthening understanding for students and parents and contributing to higher achievement.”
As with the Grade 10 FCAT, the tests released today are identical to the tests taken by students with two exceptions: questions that will be used on future tests were removed and answer spaces were added into the released tests. Students typically use separate sheets to record their answers. To maintain the integrity of future tests, answer documents for individual students were not released.
Hundreds of printed and online resources related to the FCAT have been available for several years, including annual releases of sample questions and a release of “half tests” in 2001. The newly released tests are additional resources for students and parents. The tests should only be used to review questions and passages, the difficulty of questions and the length of the test. Students should not memorize the questions or use the test to determine the subject area for future tests.
“We are pleased to have yet another opportunity to release actual tests taken by students and I encourage students, and parents to use these tests in conjunction with the other FCAT materials provided on our website,” said Commissioner Winn. “The State continues to take steps toward increasing the transparency of the FCAT. Based on the availability of funding and resources, we plan to release tests for additional grades over the next two years.”
Test questions, written according to specific guidelines developed by Florida educators, are reviewed and revised by Florida teachers, curriculum specialists and school/district administrators to ensure they are appropriate for the grade level. To release previously administered Grades 4, 8 and 10 tests, the state invested more than $3 million over the past three years to develop enough test questions to retire and replace those shared publicly.
The cost of releasing one test is approximately $350,000. This amount includes increased development of test questions, long-term copyright permission for reading passages, resources to conduct reviews of additional questions, costs to produce additional test forms and score additional test questions, and costs to prepare the test document for web release. The cost of releasing six tests annually (three grade levels for two subject areas) is approximately $2.1 million. If a Grade 10 test is also released annually, the cost is approximately $2.8 million. Additional costs for the increased staff and other support resources would also be necessary to monitor and implement the increased development, production, and release activities. The Department of Education has included $3 million in its 2006-07 legislative budget request to support these activities.
Based on the availability of funding and resources, reading and mathematics tests for Grades 3, 7 and 9 will be released in fall 2006, followed by reading and mathematics tests for Grades 5 and 6 in fall 2007. Continuation of additional funding would allow a three-year rolling release of tests to begin in 2008 with a second release of the Grades 4, 8 and 10 FCAT.
The 2005 Grade 4 and 8 reading and mathematics FCAT and answer keys are available on the Department of Education's website at www.fldoe.org. The support materials prepared for the release of the grade 10 tests were updated with information about grades 4 and 8 and include:
- How to Use the FCAT Released Tests
- How to Score the FCAT Released Tests
- Frequently Asked Questions About the FCAT Released Tests