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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Doctor says FCAT doesn't measure learning

From the Palm Beach Post, By Perry Miller

In two separate articles of May 26, both of which included Commissioner of Education Gerard Robinson's thoughts regarding the FCAT testing program, it became evident that the Commissioner has not the foggiest understanding or knowledge that the FCAT is an academic and psychological piece of junk . It costs Florida taxpayers thousands of dollars, and accomplishes nothing but creates confusion and misery for classroom teachers and the children involved plus their parents and ends up telling us nothing about the children's progress or academic abilities.

I hold two different earned doctoral degrees with one in psychology and the other in education, plus I held a full professorship at the University of Massachusetts for almost 40 years.

When I retired, I fled to Florida. I do not know why. It was probably the magnetic draw of the sun.

I am a psychometric psychologist. I specialize in psychological testing and also have some pretty good expertise in test construction. Here sits the problem with the FCAT. The FCAT was never developed with any thought in mind as to the two most important characteristics of any test — these are that any test must be valid and it must be reliable.

A test is valid if it can be demonstrated that it measures what it claims to measure. A test is considered to be reliable if it yields similar results when administered to similar populations under similar conditions.

There are techniques for determining all of these elements. The fact is that the FCAT does not meet these two demanding criteria and never has. There is a lot of good testing material out there.

What is it that makes this piece of "academic junk" so irresistible to Florida's school administrators?

Perry Miller is a resident of Delray Beach.

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