Guest Post by Janet McDaniel.
It seems every year Florida changes its standardized assessments, currently known as the FCAT, or, as my children say, “the Florida Child Abuse test.” For years, plans have been brewing to merge the FCAT into the Common Core Standards which require computerized testing. This year, Pearson, a major textbook publisher became the FCAT vendor and developed Florida’s first computerized testing for the 2014 FCATs. It goes without saying, there were major glitches, causing test delays, frustration and the potential for numerous invalidated tests. According to the Miami Herald 4/22, On Twitter, Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho vented his frustration, complaining that Tuesday’s problems amounted to a “disrupted testing environment” that created an uneven playing field, and “could legitimately impact assessment results.”
While the testing nightmare is certainly an issue in and of itself, what happens now if you receive notice your middle school or high school child failed the Reading FCAT and is required by State law to take Intensive Remedial Reading as an elective? What if your child has never failed an FCAT and you know he/she does not need such a placement? How can you be assured the test glitches didn’t “create an uneven playfield?” Can I get my child out of this class? The answer is yes, but not with ease.
A few years ago, a waiver existed called the One Year Good Exemption Cause for a child who met specific criteria; had never failed in the past and scored at Level 2. This waiver however is no longer needed thanks to Senate Bill 1076 which states a child receiving a Level 1 or a Level 2 score may receive his/her remedial strategies incorporated into a content area class – see (5)(a). Specific requirements include special certifications for the instructors and demonstration the reading deficit is not in the area of decoding.
Now the important question, does your school know about these provisions? There is a good chance they do not and in order to make your case, you need documentation. These provisions exist for every student, not just those with disabilities. As a parent of a child with disability, the spectrum broadens when assessing the reasons why a child failed the Reading FCAT this year. Questions you might ask: Does my child need remedial reading? Does my child need a reading comprehension goal in his IEP? Did my child receive all approved accommodations while taking the test? Was my child frustrated due to testing rescheduling and delays? (Absolutely). Was change and not knowing when the test would be administered a violation of IEP Accommodations? Did the disruption of the testing environment create an uneven playing field and impact my child’s test results?
What can you do? You can contact your child’s school in August, requesting a meeting with the SST (Student Support Team) including the principal and the LA teacher. You can present documented evidence that the Intensive Reading course is not required and request services through the IEP and the content area course to address any comprehension deficit. You may also request RTI (Response to Intervention) data as well as data from the FCAT to support the problem is not with decoding.
State educators are confident though that this epic failure will not happen again? Why? Next year, Pearson will not be the test vendor, the American Research Institute (AIR) will! Of course, their track record isn’t that much better as far as testing glitches, according to the Miami Herald. Don’t worry, they’re sure to fix all the problems by next spring! 🙂