How will the FCAT change for students?

CREATED Feb. 28, 2014 - UPDATED: Feb. 28, 2014

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FORT MYERS, Fla. - If you have a child in school you're familiar with the FCAT, or Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test .  But Florida schools are changing tests as part of the switch to new "common core" educational standards. So, what does all this mean for your child? 

"In 2015 there won't be an FCAT anymore," says Dr. Nancy Graham, the superintendent of the Lee County School District.

But don't take that to mean life will be much easier for school kids in florida because there will be something similar to the FCAT, another type of assessment test.

"The difference is that we're using different standards. They're standards that are more rigorous," added Dr. Graham.

Rigorous in that the state of Florida has come up with the concept of trying to teach kids how to think.

"I've said for years the only thing we have left to teach children is how to think because they can Google anything," explained Dr. Graham. "And, so we're going to end up with the generation of children that have a lot of information and have no idea what to do with it unless we teach them how to think".

There will be tests, test scores, and consequences if kids don't do well on them.

"That's what the new standards do, they force critical thinking to a higher level," Dr. Graham said. "That requires a different kind of assessment than what we've been giving".

The new tests will likely be more interactive, with fewer multiple choice questions, requiring open ended answers or essays. They are designed to evaluate both students and schools.

"Right now if you get an "F" - "x" number of years in a row your school has to be reconstituted," said Dr. Graham. "You start all over with new administration, new teachers, new everything".

In a month or so the FCAT will be administered for the last time and the scores count. Next year, in the spring of 2015, the test will be given but the scores won't count. Then in the following year, in the spring of 2016, that's when the new test scores and the consequences will matter.

Dr. Graham says the test will be called the "Florida Standard for College and Career Readiness". That's FSFCCR. No word yet on how they plan to abbreviate that one!