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Science Educator Questions the FCAT

Apr 19, 2012

The FCAT test is only as good as its questions…and one science educator says those questions are confusing at best.

Here's one example -- try to answer this sample FCAT question for 5th graders:

Which is scientifically testable?

  1. Orange blossoms give off a sweeter smell than gardenia flowers.
  2. The petals of red roses are softer than the petals of yellow roses.
  3. Sunflowers with larger petals attract more bees than sunflowers with smaller petals.

According to the testmaker, the correct answer is three.

But according to science educator Robert Krampf, they’re all scientifically testable. Krampf produces popular science videos for the web.

The Florida Department of Education explained the logic of the exam to him. 

"They said the average fifth grader wouldn't be smart enough to know that the other answers were all correct," he said.

The state told Krampf the other options are not taught in the 5th grade curriculum ... so students can only get credit for choosing the answer the state thinks students should know. 

"And that just blew me away."

Krampf says it feels like a philosophy for weeding out the smart kids.

"And it would have been so easy to put a different answer that wasn't scientifically correct and there wouldn't be a problem with it," he said.

State officials say all the questions are approved by a content committee. Krampf says this one question raises questions about just what exactly the FCAT is testing.