Most FCAT dates are later this year

The change is the result of a law passed last year.

Published: Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 5:45 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 10:05 p.m.

At this time of year, school administrators and teachers typically are counting down the weeks to the annual FCAT.

But thanks to legislation passed last year, which ordered the FCAT to be held later in the academic year, most of the exams are still three months away.

FCAT writing, which is only administered to fourth-, eighth- and 10th-graders, will be held March 1-3 this year.

The remaining tests — reading, math and science for grades 3-11 — will be administered April 11-22.

Also for the first time this year: The state has implemented an end-of-course exam for students taking Algebra I.

For those students, those exams will be held May 16-17. They replace the math FCAT, officials said.

For students who did not pass FCAT reading in 10th grade, retakes will be held on March 30 through April 6, and from April 11-15.

Tom Butler, press secretary for the state Department of Education, said Senate Bill 1908 directed the Department of Education to schedule the statewide writing assessment no later than March 1 and the remaining assessments no earlier than the week of April 15. He said the law mandates that end-of-course assessments must be held within the last two weeks of the course. The law took effect this school year.

The new schedule gives students about five weeks more preparation for the big test.

However, it is only good news if the results can be graded on time and sent back to the schools before the end of the school year.

Last year's FCAT results, which were supposed to have been completed last May by NCS Pearson, came in more than a month late.

That created headaches for school personnel. Pearson, which received more than $250 million to handle the tests, reported computer glitches. It was early July before the results made it to area school districts, which had to bring in off-duty personnel to help.

NCS Pearson agreed to reimburse school districts for expenses related to the mailing the results to the homes of students.

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