It begins tomorrow. The dreaded FCAT. For those of you who are not aware, the FCAT is the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, otherwise known as the FCAT. This is a test that has been designed to comply with the No Child Left Behind policy that states must have a way to test all students in 3rd -12th grade. In third grade, students who do not pass the FCAT do not pass third grade. Even if they have all A's and B's, from their teacher, even if their teacher, parents and principals believe they should move on to 4th, they don't. Because they did not pass a stupid test. Two years ago I had six kids who failed. Last year, no one. This year, who knows? I have had a 9 year old with ulcers who could not sleep because he was worried about the FCAT. This was my brightest student who ended up passing with no problem, but ulcers?
My kids have already taken the "FCAT Writes" also known as "Florida Writes" which is supposed to prove how well my kids can spit out an essay. I will tell you right now, I have 5 kids who will fail. Three of whom will fail because their first language is not English and another child because he has such difficulty writing that he has special writing help. Another child I have will fail because he wrote 3 sentences in the 40 minute period the test was given. This is a child who can write, but only when he feels like it. That day, he did not feel like it. I have an entire folder of items these children have written. I have pages and pages of documentation showing their progress throughout the year. But none of that will count, because the test of their writing skill is based on whether or not they can write about their "special day" or their "special pet" in 40 minutes.
We use curriculum maps to plan out the pace of the school year. One for each subject area. According to the county, there are many things in math I don't have to teach until April and May. But guess what, folks? THOSE THINGS ARE TESTED ON THE FCAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So my choices become either shove 6 units of math down my kids throats in 3 weeks or keep to the guide and let them feel completely panicked when they come upon a questions they have never seen before! Guess what I pick?
Why do I have to shove in down their throats in 3 weeks you ask? Because according to the guides, I am only supposed to spend 5 days on division. Well you know, my kids did not understand division in 5 days. If they do not understand division, they will not understand fractions, decimals or word problems. So I have to spend extra time teaching them division. Which I should be doing. However, when this time of year rolls around, (and I swear every year that I am not going to do this) there are a bunch of things we have not gotten to. AND THEY ARE ON THE TEST!!!!! So we cram. Today, we learned probability. in 10 minutes.
Now, all I can do is hope that they are relaxed enough to take this thing.