Springtime is celebrated around the world, but in Florida, public school kids dread it for one reason: it's FCAT time!
The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test results determine a school's ranking, contribute to a teacher's salary range, and can determine whether certain students are passed up to the next grade. The stakes are high, and this year, the test is tougher.
Florida education officials call it the FCAT 2.0, saying it's a better measure of a student's progress than the old test. The 2.0 isn't as wide, but it's deeper than the old version, testing a student's knowledge of the state's new Next Generation Sunshine State Standards.
"The standards are fewer in number but they go deeper, so students can really have a more comprehensive understanding of each of the standards they're being taught," said Pam Stewart of the Florida Department of Education.
"I think they put too much pressure on kids for FCAT," said Tameeka Burke of Hollywood. Her thoughts echo those of many parents.
"I think they're missing out on a lot of things that are important, like history, there's a lot of history they could be learning but they're not because they're so geared to the FCAT," Burke said.
Her son, Travis, is a fourth-grader. NBC 6 gave mom and son sample FCAT tests to see what they thought of the test after experiencing it first-hand.
"I think the reading portion is fine as long as the kids take their time, but it's long," Burke said. As for the math, Burke thinks, "Some of the questions maybe a little difficult for fourth graders to understand, to break it down, I think it's challenging."
Travis says he just can't wait for FCAT season to pass. I asked him how happy would he be when FCAT is over, and his face broke into a huge grin as he said, "Very happy!"
We can say that goes for the teachers and parents, too.
Take a sample test: http://fcat.fldoe.org/fcat2/fcatitem.asp