Monday, September 26, 2011
Help Me Howard: FCAT Score
FCAT: A four-letter word to some students and an outrage to some parents who want to know what their children score on the test. But the State of Florida is telling them, "No, we won't tell you what your child scored." Can they get away with it? It's why we have Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- Aletha is a single mom raising two children. Proud of herself and her teenagers.
Aletha Redwood, Fight over FCAT: "Yeah, that is my passion, and that is my commitment to them, make sure that they do what they are supposed to."
Aletha is the boss, but she has raised her children to stand up for themselves, and if they think they are right, she will listen.
Aletha Redwood: "If they can demonstrate why I should move the boundaries a little bit, I'm willing to negotiate a little bit."
And today, Aletha and her daughter Ebone are standing up and fighting for what they think is right.
Aletha Redwood: "What is going on with my daughter goes against everything that I believe in and everything I raised my children to believe in, and that is integrity."
In her last FCAT test, 17-year-old Ebone just missed passing the reading portion of the FCAT, so Aletha hired a tutor before Ebone re-took the test.
The tutor said, she was ready. Ebone took the FCAT and said she did well. Then...
Aletha Redwood: "I was told by the school that Ebone's score had been invalidated."
The state Department of Education and Taravella High School won't show Aletha her daughter's test results, won't even tell her what her daughter scored. In fact, they won't tell her much at all.
Aletha Redwood: "The simple fact that her score has been invalidated means that they found her guilty of cheating. The state is not saying that. They are evading the issue, they are dancing around that. They're saying, 'We're not saying 'cheating.'' But the bottom line is the fact of the matter."
Aletha says, the insinuation that Ebone cheated makes no sense. This seating chart drawn by the principal shows Ebone was a few chairs away from the student in this seat, who Ebone was told had similar results to Ebone and whose test score was also thrown out.
Ebone Hill, FCAT Score Invalidated: "Somebody could have cheated off of me, but I mean, I did my own thing."
The teacher wrote that she watched the students, that no one did anything suspicious. The tutor wrote that Ebone made significant progress.
So the Broward School District filed an appeal to the Florida Department of Education, and the state rejected it.
Aletha Redwood: "It's pretty simple, this matter is pretty simple. If the state feels that Ebone did not earn her score honestly and she cheated on the test, they need to produce evidence of such, and we need to move forward."
Ebone can take the test again, but Aletha says, it's not fair that the State of Florida can throw out a test score without showing any proof of cheating at all. Can they get away with it?
Howard Finkelstein, 7 News Legal Expert: "No, they can't get away with it, but in reality, they will get away it. Here is why. You can go to court and a judge can order them to turn over the test score and why they invalidated it. But to do that, you would have to hire an attorney and an expert statistician. That will cost a lot of money and time, which Aletha and Ebone don't have."
Taravella High School wouldn't return our calls. The Florida Department of Education told us they couldn't discuss Ebone's FCAT test, even though her mother was willing to give them permission.
In a memo to the school districts, the state said they are using a security firm to test against cheating, but they won't say Ebone cheated or explain what was wrong with her test score.
Howard Finkelstein: "I don't know why you wouldn't explain the reason for rejecting the test. That's all Aletha is asking for. Show her the proof that something happened. And for some reason, they won't explain why they won't do that."
Ebone will now have to re-take the test again in a couple of weeks. She hopes she does well again, but her mother looks ahead and fears the FCAT being thrown out will hurt her.
Aletha Redwood: "When she goes to apply for colleges [they may ask], 'What happened to your 2010-2011 FCAT?' 'It's been invalidated.' Just the simple notion that it's been invalidated suggests, confirms or leads one to believe that Ebone was guilty of inappropriate behavior."
Patrick Fraser: "And Ebone is not alone. We hear from other students who have been told their FCAT scores are thrown out. Aletha said, if she had plenty of money, she could force the state to show her the test and the results. Howard says, she is probably right. Like someone once said, money talks."
Facing a test you can't pass? Need to score some assistance? Contact us. It's no secret we can help, and we will be happy to show you the results.