• Orange Co. parents express frustrations with FCAT scores

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    ORLANDO, Fla. - Florida's Education Commissioner attempted to ease parent and student frustrations over this year's scores on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test during an emergency meeting on Sunday.

    State Sen. Gary Siplin called the meeting at Evans High School in Orlando.

    Concerned parents and students were able to express their issues on the standardized test.

    Florida Education Commissioner Gerald Robinson applauded the increase in writing scores since last year.

    "The test is strong. It is valid," Robinson said. "It prepares and predicts where we want our students to go. It is not a tool for punishment; it is a tool for assessment."

    But everyone didn't agree.

    Sandy Stenoff said she thinks the FCAT is a "broken tool." She said her son failed the FCAT after being enrolled in the International Baccalaureate program.

    "He had a 3.5 GPA and never gotten below a 4 on the FCAT. But since he didn't pass that one day, he had to take remedial reading for the next year," said Stenoff. 

    During the meeting, Robinson explained to parents how the level of writing students produced was actually higher this year than last year.

    However, he did agree that the Department of Education could have done a better job communicating the new FCAT standards.

    The new standards cracked down on spelling and grammar usage. Seventy-three percent of students failed the writing test until state educators lowered the passing grade.

    That allowed roughly 80 percent of students to pass. Fifty-two percent of ninth graders failed the reading portion, while 50 percent of tenth graders failed.

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