Tuesday March 9th 2010 is the day marked by the State of Florida for the annual FCAT ritual to begin. This year however many Florida middle schools are getting a one day reprieve, due to a glitch in the 7th grade test booklets.
FCAT is a serious ritual for the guidance departments at each school. The preparations are under lock and key and FCAT chairs at all schools spend weeks locked away in private offices planning the logisitcs of this major testing event. This involves scheduling for the classrooms, students, and teachers, training the test givers, and sorting the materials needed for each class. The anticipated delivery day for the test booklets is a major event for the testing chair at every school, involving mountains of boxes that must opened, sorted per student and according the the schedule planned for each child , each classroom and each teacher.
During the sorting of testing matierials, pencils, calculators, answer sheets and test booklets at Buchanan Middle School, the testing chairperson Kathleen LeClaire , guidance couselor, noticed something odd about the 7th grade test booklets. To control cheating the designers of the FCAT exam create 40 different tests per class level. The students are required to enter their test booklet number on their answer sheet, by bubbling in the numbers so the sheet can be scored properly. LeClaire noticed suddenly that for the 7th grade, the answer sheets only had space to bubble in 4 different test booklet numbers. She checked and rechecked and thought an error had been made for her school only. She called the central office to find out what to do about the anomaly , and faxed over copies to verify.
The call went out to all schools to check their test answer sheets and the discovery made that at many schools the 7th grade answer sheets were printed wrong, only allowing the numbers of 4 test booklets to be bubbled in. This caused a one day delay in testing for all Hillsborough County middle schools. The new answer sheets arrived this morning around 10AM and the middle school test chairs in affected schools are frantically readying their 7th grade test materials.
If the error had not been noticed and the FCAT exams had started on schedule in the affected middle schools, the discovery on testing day would have created chaos in each school. Buchanan’s test chair, Ms LeClaire, and her attention to detail was able to save the FCAT for many middle school students.