[Susan notes: We need to keep hammering the need for test disclosure. And then deconstruct the questions and answers.]
Published in Palm Beach Post
Many readers of The Post no doubt have wondered why so many Florida students have been failing the reading portion of the FCAT ("$945,000 to pay for reading coaches," May 28).
Until now, the administration of Jeb Bush has refused to give the public access to either the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test itself or what the Bush administration considers the correct answers to be. Without that information, the public is left to ponder whether Florida's students are exceedingly dumb, whether Florida's teachers are exceedingly incompetent, or whether, for political reasons, Gov. Bush intentionally produced a flawed, vindictive and unfair FCAT reading test that many kids have little chance of passing.
Finally, an inkling as to what one of the FCAT reading test questions might ask was suggested by the May 26 Page One article "10 unaccredited schools get vouchers." Here is my version of how that question might read: "Carefully read the following sentence, and then select which of the four choices is the correct interpretation: (The following is directly from the article.) 'Under Gov. Jeb Bush's "A-Plus" education plan passed in 1999, private schools taking the vouchers must... be subject to the instruction, curriculum and attendance criteria adopted by an appropriate non-public school accrediting body.'
"A) The law requires that Florida private schools must be accredited in order to receive taxpayers' money in the form of education vouchers. B) The law makes it clear that no unaccredited private schools are eligible to receive taxpayers' money in the form of education vouchers. C) Florida law does not require private schools to be accredited in order to receive education vouchers; it requires schools only to use instruction, curriculum and attendance standards used by accrediting groups. D) Both A and B are correct."
Upon learning from Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings that Gov. Bush has determined that the correct answer is C, all Floridians now can rest assured that the problem is neither dumb students nor incompetent teachers. The problem is dumb adults who elected and then reelected Mr. Bush to be governor of our once-great state.
William H. Crowell