Letters to the Editor
Highlands TodayABCs of FCAT writing test
Published: May 30, 2012
Published: May 30, 2012
It is interesting to read and hear the differing opinions and reactions to the FCAT 2.0 writing scores. Before you jump to the conclusion to "throw the test out," I encourage you to take the time to educate yourself about the test.
The FCAT writing test was not originally designed to assess the "mechanics" of writing, that is, capitalization, punctuation, spelling, etc.
It was originally designed to measure continuity-of-thought progression and expression and to teach students to analyze a prompt, make a conclusion, express that conclusion, elaborate and defend their conclusion, and then to complete the process with a final statement of their conclusion. This involves more thought process and individual expression than simply hammering out writing mechanics.
Our students, with their teachers' guidance, came to excel at this writing, so much so that the standards of "on grade level achievement" continued to be raised over the years (from 3.0 to 3.5, to this year moving to 4.0).
What has happened is that this year, along with raising the standard, the state DOE decided to put more emphasis on the mechanics of the writing, also with no guidance as to what standards these mechanics would be measured against. It obviously was a recipe for disaster. Should the mechanics of the writing be considered along with the writing process? Of course.
The state has done the right thing by adding this to the assessment. We don't need to throw out the assessment, we just need to layer in the new standards and establish guidelines.
Enough excuses for lake levels
I am so tired of reading the politically motivated excuses why we can't get anything corrected on Little Lake Jackson or Lake Jackson.
As I read the front page article in Thursday's Highlands Today, I did a slow burn. Although I'm vice president of the Friends of Erin Park Canals and Little Lake Jackson, I'm writing this solely on my own.
I was at the meeting where SWFWMD discussed the addition of two dams on Jackson Creek ($1.6 million each, equaling the $3.2 million described in the article).
They explained that after a two-year study, they realized that if the new dams worked perfectly, they would raise our lake level, possibly a quarter of an inch.
At our meeting with SWFWMD, they explained that our water evaporation rate is approximately 1.3 million gallons per day. Add those two together and I don't care who you are, that sounds like a lot of water loss and still no one can get a permit to fix anything.
After the meeting, a representative from SWFWMD admitted he didn't really know where our dam on Tubbs Road was located. Why study other avenues for construction when you don't have any idea where the real problem is located?
We have not had the rain necessary to bring our lake level to where it should be, but if we don't stop the water from running out of the lakes, we can soon turn our canals into dirt bike tracks. I hate to mention that we can't even get the hilly terrain under the bridge leveled out so that if we ever do get enough water, we could use the passage as we have for many years.
I can't help but get the feeling that if we quit the politics, expensive studies and constant stalling from government agencies, and instead used our heads and listen to reason, we could have had our problems fixed years ago. The repairs might be less than the time and manpower already wasted on studies and meeting after meeting to discuss why we can't get anything done on our favorite, beautiful, little lakes.