The Next Generation Sunshine State Standards refer to the new Florida state standards approved in 2011 and 2012. These standards guide instruction in the Florida educational system for elementary and secondary students. Student performance on these standards is measured through the computer based Florida Comprehensive Assessment Tests 2.0, which began replacing the original FCATs in the 2010-2011 school year.
As of 2012-2013, fifth-grade students are assessed in reading, math and science. The FCAT 2.0 reading test assesses fifth-grade students in vocabulary, reading application, literary analysis, comprehension of informational text and the research process. The math test assesses knowledge of base ten and fractions; expressions, equations and statistics; geometry and measurement. The science test assesses knowledge in the general nature of science as well as earth, space, physical and life sciences. The percentage breakdown of these topics is available on the FCAT fact sheet.
The Florida Department of Education has an abundance of FCAT resources on its website. The website provides information regarding the content of the tests, how the tests are scored, what the scores mean, what is tested at each grade and the testing schedule for the year. Sample questions and answers are also provided. Previous scores on the FCAT are predictive of FCAT 2.0 scores, so if your child did not perform adequately on third- or fourth-grade tests, then taking practice tests could help in general test-taking ability as well as content knowledge.
Find out if your child's school is participating in the Florida Department of Education FCAT Explorer program. If so, school personnel can provide you with a password for using this free tutorial website outside of school. The site is designed to prepare fifth-grade students in math and science. The fifth-grade Math Station provides math concepts and 162 multiple-choice questions as well as some short answer questions.The Science Station includes 15 lessons addressing the key concepts found on the exam and provides 200 practice questions. Whether or not the questions are answered correctly, both programs provide the correct answer as well as the reasoning behind it.
Individual school districts throughout Florida provide resources on their websites, and other organizations also provide FCAT test prep resources. The company IXL provides the standards for each state, a description of the specific skills addressed and specific practice questions with immediate feedback. There is no fee or login required. Pearson Education, the company that created the FCATs, provides sample questions on its website. Barnes and Noble carries comprehensive curriculum workbooks and test preparation books based on content and grade.
Christine Jax has been a writer since 1991 in the areas of education, parenting and family relationships. Professor Jax has a Ph.D. in education policy and administration, a Master of Arts in public administration and a Bachelor of Arts in child psychology. She has worked in PK-12 and higher education for more than 20 years.