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School Districts And Standardized Testing

By: Jessica Singletary

As a high school senior, I have finally discovered why all the controversy over standardized testing and the ways of school boards exists. I passed the Reading, Math, Writing, and English portions of the state Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test (FCAT). I also passed all of those core classes throughout highschool with an 80% or higher. Last year, as a junior in high school, I took the FCAT Science test. This test is mandatory to graduate, or you can pass the equivalent ACT Science test. I failed the FCAT Science test, as well as the ACT Science test. As a student having a 3.8 gpa, I find it hard to believe that I am so knowledgeable when it comes to the FCAT Science test. I am now a senior in high school and have been told that I will not be able to graduate until I score a passing grade on either test. Is it my fault that I may not be able to graduate with my class?

When I confronted my guidance counselor about my problem, we discussed that I have failed every practice FCAT Science test since I was in high school. She suggested that maybe I am a bad test-taker. I pondered this thought and decided she must be off her rocker! I scored in the 95th or higher percentile in all the other FCAT tests. How can I only be a bad test-taker for the science portion?

Afterwards, I questioned the teacher and school district. My freshman year in high school I took Earth Science. It was a very hard class for me. I studied until no end and received between an 80% and 90% for each semester in the class. I had an outstanding teacher that challenged me. He pushed me to my limits and made me realize that if I study, I will succeed, even though science does not come naturally to me. In my sophomore and junior years of high school, however, I had teachers that were new to our school. I took biology my sophomore year and I did learn a lot and maintained a good average. On the contrary, my junior year in Chemistry, my teacher was very young; in her twenties. She was very nice, yes, but in my opinion, and many of my classmates', a kid can not teach a kid. She did not have the respect of most of the students, and she did not care. After a couple months in this class, I realized the books we were issued to take home for this class, were completely different from the ones we had in the classroom. They were a different brand, not even just a different edition. Th teacher had no idea.

Another problem, was that we did not have enough books in the classroom for every student. Coming from a school of "advanced technology", why can we not afford to properly stock our classrooms? Toward the middle of the year, after many parents complained as well as students-the ones that actually cared about their future and graduating, the teacher began to lose any interest she had in the class at all. She began playing games with the goof-offs in the classroom, such as "Ninja." A game where people stand in a circle and take one move at a time trying to knock out your opponent. Not only is that a contact game where people could get hurt, but what does this game have to do with Chemistry? Absolutely nothing. My teacher knew she was moving the following year, thus, she no longer needed her job. She was more of the goof off students' friend than she was their teacher. TO end the class of nothing, the time to take the final exam for the class came. The test was 100 questions. One week before the test, instead of reviewing and quizzing us, my teacher printed out all the test questions and gave us all the answers. She declared that like all other tests we took, we could use a cheat sheet; one page front and back. This meant that we could use the test questions with answers she gave us on the test. From this, you see it is no wonder that I had a high 'A' average in the class the entire year. To our disadvantage, students that cared about the class and really needed it, learned nothing.

To my surprise, on the FCAT junior year, the first that counted, the one that determined whether I graduate with my class, I found that almost the entire thing was chemistry. Obviously, I did not pass.

So my question to you is, how can someone with a high gpa, high grades on the other standardized tests, and high grades in the science classes, fail this one test multiple times? I feel as if I have been cheated by the school system. I feel like they did not supply me with the knowledge that I needed. Now, another question to ponder is, is it the school system, or is it the test itself is not fair?

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