Florida's Education Chief Holds Forum in Tampa on FCAT

Marion Herbert's picture
Thursday, May 24, 2012

Florida's education chief will be in Tampa today to host the first in a series of public forums, part of a blitz to quell frustrations about the state's testing system.

Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson defended the FCAT after the dramatic decline in student writing scores released last week but conceded that the state could have done a better job of explaining changes to parents.

Calling it "Conversations with the Commissioner," the state Department of Education on Tuesday billed the 7:30 p.m. forum at Hillsborough Community College as an opportunity for "parents, teachers and local communities to talk about education in Florida."

He will be joined by Kathleen Shanahan, chairwoman of the State Board of Education, and MaryEllen Elia, superintendent of Hillsborough County Schools.

The DOE also launched a call center, websites and designated email address on Monday, all to answer questions from parents.

According to staff emails, Gov. Rick Scott's office has been intimately involved in efforts to roll out the test scores. Scott's top staff has played a key role in coordinating the state's response after a dramatic drop in test scores prompted a scramble by officials to temporarily lower the passing grade on the writing portion of the assessment from a 4.0 to a 3.0.

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