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Information for Parents

FCAT Accommodations 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.

FCAT Accommodations

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 alone)

use of assistive devices (adapted calculators in grades 7 and higher, technology without spelling or grammar check for writing assessments).

Each 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.

Unique Accommodations

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.

To 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.

In 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

Ask 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 diploma

(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:

Florida Department of Education

Bureau of Instructional Support and Community Services

(850) 488-1106

 

Useful Links

 

Information taken from:

                    Florida Department of Education 

                    ESE#311901

                    2003

 

 

 

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