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FCAT Results – A Teacher’s Angst and Joy

Despite the fact that yesterday, Friday, was my first official day of summer vacation, I found myself at my school around 7:30am.


Well, the day before, the teachers at my school had been notified that the results from the Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test (FCAT) would be released the following morning at 6am.

The state assessment is the culminating event for students and teachers.  It plays a large role in the final performance rating that teachers receive.

Ultimately, it determines if students will need to be in Intensive Reading classes the following school year.

I walked into the Guidance office and simply held my hand out.

It was my indirect way of requesting THE LISTS…9th and 10th grade…of students’ scores.

Then I sat down at a conference table and began the tortuous process of going through each name, a sheet of paper and pen beside me.

As I encountered my students’ names, I wrote them down, along with their scores and their learning gains or losses.

On the other side of the cubicle sat my friend, Barb.  She’s my school’s literacy coach and in charge of the Reading Department.

She, too, was going through the lists.

I’d warned her early on not to tell me my students’ scores.  I needed to see them for myself.

She couldn’t help herself, though, and she hollered, “Nat, Nat.  Take a look at So-and-So’s name.  Oh, oh, oh.”

I skipped down to his name and screamed aloud when I saw his score.

He’d done well.  Actually, he’d done far, far better than “well.”

I jumped up and ran to the guidance counselors’ offices, following behind Barbara and proudly telling everyone that he was MY baby.

Oh word.

I’d taught that child two years in a row, so to see his success filled my heart with a joy that I cannot describe.

He’s a tenth grader.  His score fulfills the FCAT graduation requirement.


I returned to my list.

My heart soared with each name that had passed; however, there was much sadness too.

I saw kids who I’d been sure would pass, only to have missed the “magic” number by one or two points.


I cannot tell you how heavy my heart felt.

Those are the absolute worse scores to read.

We’re talking one or two questions here.


The Mr. called to check on me during the three hours I sat in that office.  While I couldn’t share specifics, he astutely commented that he couldn’t tell if I was happy or not.

I’m still not sure.

Barb says that I did a good job with my kids.  Nearly three quarters showed significant learning gains.

I, however, am an all-or-nothing kind of gal.

It’s difficult to accept anything less than a passing number.

However, when it comes down to it, learning gains are important for a number of reasons.

Many students need help creating strong foundations that other teachers who follow can build upon.

Oftentimes, students are simply not mature enough to pass the test in the ninth or tenth grade.  Usually, they get serious around their eleventh and twelfth grade years, and they return to that foundation.

Still, I questioned myself.

I suspect that for many students, it came down to having a bad day.

I hate that.

One test.

One bad day.

Another entire year of Intensive Reading for those students.

As I continue to mull over my students’ scores, I thought about each student and the different circumstances that student had faced throughout the year, and I wondered what roles those circumstances played in each student’s scores.

Doesn’t the State of Florida understand this?

I think not.

I wondered what made the difference for the students who did pass?

Although I only spent three hours at the school, it was a very emotional block of time.

I experienced lows, that’s for sure, but I also flew high as the heavens as I called parents to share the good news of their children’s success.


By the time I got home after lunch, I felt drained…so much so that I took a three-hour nap.

I’ll be doing a lot of reflecting this summer…looking over those scores and the breakdown of each question category.

I’ll consider strategies that I think worked and those that may not have.

While I don’t intend to reinvent the wheel, I am going to approach my plans for next school year with an open mind, knowing that I’ll get a new batch of students who need individualized attention to their strengths and weaknesses.

For now, though, I’m resting.

I’m pampering myself with lots of naps, knitting, and television.

A new school year will be here before I know it.

2 Responses

  1. Enjoy your break – you deserve it!

  2. I understand the mixed feelings about the test results. The ” one test ” method could really use a makeover. Rest well for this will happen again next year.

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