Information for Parents
for Students with Disabilities
FCAT and the Sunshine State Standards
The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test
(FCAT) is a statewide test of how well students are learningl
Students take the FCAT Reading and Mathematics in grades 3 through
10. They must make a passing score on the 10th grade FCAT
in order to earn a standard diploma. The FCAT is based on
the Sunshine State Standards. The Sunshine State Standards
list the skills taught in each grade. The FCAT tests how well
students have learned these skills.
Students with Disabilities
Most students with disabilities work toward
a standard diploma by learning the Sunshine State Standards skills
and taking the FCAT.
A small number of students with more severe
disabilities are taught the skills listed in the Sunshine State
Standards for Special Diploma. These students generally do
not take the FCAT; their learning is measured with an alternate
assessment. These students generally work toward a special
diploma, rather than a standard diploma.
Each student's individual educational plan
(IEP) team, with parent input, decides which standards the student
will follow, based on the student's needs. This information
is written on the IEP.
Most students with disabilities take the
FCAT in the same way that non-disabled students do. However,
some students with disabilities are eligible to take the FCAT with
accommodations -- changes in how the test is given.
These changes allow an individual student to show what he or she
has learned. Changes in what is tested are not allowed.
Rule 6A-1.0943, Florida Administrative Code
(FAC), lists the accommodations that may be used. Here are
some examples of allowable FCAT accommodations:
changes in the way the test items are presented (large print, Braille,
sign language, visual enhancement)
changes in the way the student responds to the test items (signed
response, verbal response, mechanical or electronic devices, dictation
to a proctor)
changes in scheduling of the test (allowing frequent breaks, extending
the test session over several days, allowing more time)
changes in the setting (taking the test with a smaller group or
use of assistive devices (adapted calculators in grades 7 and higher,
technology without spelling or grammar check for writing assessments).
student is given only the FCAT accommodations that the individual
student needs. The IEP team or 504 plan team determines which
accommodations, if any, the student needs. The student should
use the same accommodations during classroom testing. This
allows the student to become comfortable with the accommodations.
Some accommodations that children get in
the classroom are not allowed for the FCAT. For example, using
a spell-check or grammar-check when writing, using a calculator
for basic computation in grades 3 - 6, or having someone read aloud
or sign items in the reading test to the student are not allowed
because they interfere with the test's ability to measure the student's
mathematics, writing, or reading skills. The school must get
parents' written permission to use such accommodations in the classroom.
Some students with disabilities need unusual
accommodations that are not in Rule 6A-1.0943, FAC. Unique
accommodations may only be used with special approval from the Commissioner
of Education. An example of a unique accommodation that may
be approved is the use of a specially prepared test book to provide
more space between items or fewer items on a page.
be approved, unique accommodations must not change what is tested
or affect the validity or reliability of the test.
Options for Students Who Do Not Pass the
10th Grade FCAT
Students must pass the 10th grade FCAT in
order to graduate with a standard diploma. There are six opportunities
for students to take the test before graduation time. Students
may also take special courses to help them. For a student
with a disability, the IEP team should identify ways to help the
student learn the skills needed to pass the FCAT.
If a student with a disability does not pass
the FCAT by graduation time, he or she may graduate with a special
diploma or certificate of completion. Students with disabilities
who have not received a standard diploma are eligible to continue
to attend high school and to take classes to help pass the FCAT
until age 22.
special cases, a student who is eligible under the Individuals with
Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) may ask the district superintendent
to request a special exemption, or waiver, from the FCAT requirement
for earning a standard diploma. This may be approved if the
student's FCAT scores reflect the student's disability is sensory,
manual, or speaking skills rather than the student's academic achievement.
The decision about the waiver is made by the Commissioner of Education
after reviewing documentation sent by the school district superintendent,
showing that the student has mastered the Sunshine State Standards
tested on the FCAT.
To Get the Information You Need
you child's teacher or your child's IEP team
which standards are being taught to your child
whether your child will take the FCAT
whether your child will need accommodation on the FCAT
whether your child is working toward a standard diploma or a special
(The IEP team should make the decision about
the type of diploma when the student is in the 8th grade or by age
14, whichever comes first. The team can change the decision
later if necessary.)
For information about accommodations for
students with disabilities contact:
Department of Education
of Instructional Support and Community Services
Florida Department of Education