Florida Test Answers Still Off-Limits To Parents

By Lynn Olson — May 12, 2004 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Florida lawmakers adjourned without taking final action on a plan to let parents or guardians review their children’s answers on state standardized tests.

The Florida Senate unanimously passed a bill late last month that would have permitted a student’s parents or guardian to review answers to the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test under secure conditions.

Senate Bill 1592 passed 40-0 on April 27. But a companion measure, House Bill 703, did not get a hearing before the legislature adjourned for the year.

“We are definitely not giving up,” said Gloria T. Pipkin, the president of the Florida Coalition for Assessment Reform, a grassroots organization that supported the legislation. “Open testing is one of our major issues. Life-altering decisions about children should never be made on the basis of a single test, and certainly not a single secret test as we have here in Florida.”

Scores on the FCAT are used to determine rewards and penalties for schools. Test results also help decide whether 3rd graders are promoted to the next grade, and whether high school students receive a diploma.

Parents receive their children’s scores on the FCAT and how they have performed within individual content areas, such as the ability to identify a main idea, in order to target areas of strength and weakness. With the exception of sample items, though, test questions and students’ responses to them are not disclosed.

The bills would have given parents the right to review their child’s answers on the exams under secure conditions at school. The state education department would have had to pay $100 a day if such requests were not honored within 21 days.

Sen. Gary Siplin, a Democrat and the sponsor of the legislation, said, “Because I couldn’t get them to stop doing the FCAT, I figured I’d get them to allow the parents to see the test, so they can judge where their kids are deficient, so they can improve their scores.”

‘Just Looking’

MacKay Jimeson, a spokesman for the Florida education department, said that “just looking at questions and answers doesn’t necessarily give parents the entire picture of how a child can improve in a particular area.” The FCAT now costs more than $14 million a year for test development and related administrative costs, he added. If parents had access to test questions, “essentially, every year we would have to rebuild a completely different test,” he said.

Massachusetts makes public all of the test items on which results are based after each administration, while Texas and Virginia release forms of their tests. Parents in Delaware and Minnesota can examine their children’s graded tests under secure conditions.

Last November, a state appeals court in Florida ruled that a parent could not review the exam his son had failed. Copies of the FCAT are not public records, the court said, and parents have no right to see them.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the May 12, 2004 edition of Education Week as Florida Test Answers Still Off-Limits To Parents


Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
English-Language Learners Webinar English Learners and the Science of Reading: What Works in the Classroom
ELs & emergent bilinguals deserve the best reading instruction! The Reading League & NCEL join forces on best practices. Learn more in our webinar with both organizations.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
Challenging the Stigma: Emotions and STEM
STEM isn't just equations and logic. Join this webinar and discover how emotions fuel innovation, creativity, & problem-solving in STEM!
Content provided by Project Lead The Way

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Assessment Opinion What's the Best Way to Grade Students? Teachers Weigh In
There are many ways to make grading a better, more productive experience for students. Here are a few.
14 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
Assessment Spotlight Spotlight on Assessment
This Spotlight will help you evaluate effective ways to offer students feedback, learn how to improve assessments for ELs, and more.
Assessment Opinion To Replace Skill Mastery for Seat Time, There Are 3 Requirements
Time for learning and student support take on a whole new meaning in the mastery-based learning model.
4 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Assessment More States Could Drop Their High School Exit Exams
There's movement afoot in nearly half the states that still mandate high school exit exams to end the requirement.
4 min read
A student looks at questions during a college test preparation class at Holton Arms School in Bethesda, Md., on Jan. 17, 2016. The SAT exam will move from paper and pencil to a digital format, administrators announced Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022, saying the shift will boost its relevancy as more colleges make standardized tests optional for admission.
A student looks at questions during a college test preparation class at Holton Arms School in Bethesda, Md., on Jan. 17, 2016. More states are looking to abandon high school exit exams as support for standardized testing cools.
Alex Brandon/AP