The first reading exam essay, written by Mary Leister and published by the National Wildlife Federation in 1990, was selected by the Florida Department of Education Office of Assessment. Mr. Vince Verges currently serves as the administrator in charge.
Florida Department of Education contractors work alongside groups of experienced Florida educators and citizens who specialize in the language arts and reading courses in an effort to build specifications for high-stakes exams. These specifications directly influence the material selected by reviewers, ultimately found within standardized tests (FCAT, n.d.). A focus on language and reading in high-stakes testing places minority students at a disadvantage and does not properly assess their intelligence or education level.
Implications for all students begin with a scripted curriculum that bases academic success in terms of reading comprehension and cognitive intuition of phrases written in the English language. In a state where 23.2% of the population has a Latino background (US Census Bureau, 2013), the English language preference is not insignificant. In addition, reviewers presume that students have a background understanding of the food chain and natural selection. As the student carries this degree of familiarity with nature, they will gain to clearly interpret the differences between the marsh and the pond, as posed in question three.
Students with a rural background stand to benefit from these test questions as they will already be able to readily imagine the setting posed in the story. In the case of the distressed bird parents, students from stable family situations stand in great position to relate to questions concerning the parent birds’ reaction to the baby falling into the pond, swimming to the shore, and being fed insistently after returning to the nest as outlined in questions four, six, and nine.
Children from minority groups with differing cultural patterns for marriage, parental nurturance, and nuclear families may find the material difficult to relate to. Unfortunately, “one size . . . takes as its norm white, middle to upper class experiences and cultural practices” (Neill, 2004). In the end, this biased proposal leaves minority students on the outside looking in.
FCAT 2.0 reading Test Item Specifications. (n.d.). Bureau of K-12 Assessment. Retrieved November 27, 2013, from http://fcat.fldoe.org/fcat2/pdf/FL10SpISG35RWTr3gfinal.pdf
Neill, M., Guisbond, L., & Schaeffer, B. (2004, April 1). Failing our children home. The National Center for Fair & Open Testing. Retrieved November 27, 2013, from http://www.fairtest.org/node/1778
US Census Bureau. (2013, June 27). Florida QuickFacts. Florida People QuickFacts. Retrieved November 27, 2013, from http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/12000.html