The Board of Education has decided to lower the passing grade on the writing portion of Florida's standardized test in an emergency meeting on Tuesday after preliminary results showed a drastic drop in student passing scores.And it's not like the students have been asked to write The Brothers Karamazov, a typical writing question on an FCAT exam is:
Results on the FCAT are the major factor for determining grades the state uses to reward top schools and sanction those at the bottom of the spectrum.
This is the first year students and schools will be assessed on the basis of tougher tests and scoring systems, expecting to result in more students failing the FCAT and lower school grades.
The board, though, agreed at its regular meeting last week not to let any school drop more than one letter grade this year to help them adjust to the rigorous new standards.
The writing exam was made more difficult by increasing expectations for proper punctuation, capitalization, spelling and sentence structure. The board also increased the passing grade from 3.5 to 4 on scale of zero to 6.
The preliminary results show only 27 percent of fourth-graders received a passing score compared with 81 percent last year.
For eighth-graders it was 33 percent — down from 82 percent in 2011. For 10th-graders it was 38 percent — a drop from 80 percent last year.
The lower passing score is expected to increase the number of students passing the exam to 48 percent for fourth grade, 52 percent for eighth grade and 60 percent for 10th grade, still well below last year's results.
Everyone likes getting good news.
Think about a time you got good news.
Now write a story about a time you got good news.
Not exactly rocket science now is it? This reminds me of something that Newt said at the final debate:
We have bought -- we bought over the last 50 years three huge mistakes. We bought the mistake that the teachers unions actually cared about the kids. It's increasingly clear they care about protecting bad teachers.
And if you look at L.A. Unified, it is almost criminal what we do to the poorest children in America, entrapping them into places. No Nation Left Behind said if a foreign power did this to our children, we'd declare it an act of war because they're doing so much damage. The second thing we bought into was the -- the whole school of education theory that you don't have to learn, you have to learn about how you would learn.
So when you finish learning about how you would learn, you have self esteem because you're told you have self esteem, even if you can't spell the words self esteem.
Our system is failing the kids that are most in need of help because of this type of thinking, that it's bad to have too many kids fail even if they can't write a simple essay about a simple question.