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FCAT answers to get cheater checks

State officials react to a report that some Broward and Miami-Dade schools' scores showed suspicious jumps after the 2003 tests.

Associated Press
Published February 25, 2004

MIAMI - Some answer sheets from the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test will be individually reviewed this year, an effort by state education officials to minimize cheating on the exams.

Several schools in Broward and Miami-Dade counties had statistically unlikely improvements in scores on the 2003 FCATs, according to an analysis reported by the Miami Herald this month. Schools in those counties had a higher occurrence of questionable test results than the rest of the state combined, the newspaper said.

State testing director Cornelia Orr said Monday that officials plan more comprehensive audits of this year's scores. Security measures are also expected to be increased.

"It will be a challenge because of time constraints, but we are going to review test scores," she said.

Reading, mathematics and science testing is scheduled statewide, from Monday through March 12. The FCATs are critical because they form the foundation for grading schools and largely determine whether third-graders are promoted and seniors can graduate on time.

Schools are eligible to receive "reward dollars" from the state, based on their FCAT improvement. The incentive program also prompts concern that schools could alter answer sheets to improve their standing statewide.

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