FCAT 2.0 testing is wrapping up throughout the state, but Bay County's youngest students are beginning a test of their own. This time, kindergarten, first and second grade students are taking the Stanford Achievement Test for the first time.
"It's now their time to shine because they get a test that's as important as the third, fourth, and fifth do," Victoria Smith, Guidance Counselor at Northside Elementary School, said. "They have the SAT-10 now."
The SAT-10, administered on paper, measures a kindergartner's ability to read words and sentences. First and second graders are tested on sentence comprehension.
"We'll be able to look at some data to see how students are progressing," Camilla Hudson, the District's Assessment and Accountability Coordinator, said. "We'll use that information to plan for next year's instruction as well as for students to see what strength and weaknesses they have in reading."
The results will also help the district grade a teacher's skills. The state is moving towards a merit-based pay system, where a teacher's salary is based on his or her student's achievement.
"In previous years, the K, 1, 2, and even third grade teachers, part of their evaluation that was performance based was based on students who they did not teach, and our teachers in our District said we would like our evaluation to be on students we work with everyday," Hudson said.
School leaders said they were concerned about testing such young children, specifically if they could properly shade in the small bubble answers for the computer grading system to read. However, after weeks of practice tests, they're confident the SAT-10 will provide to be a success.
"We also let the kids know that it's just a regular test, and it's just going to be able to show what they know, test their reading abilities, and let their teachers know how well their doing," Smith added.
Kindergarten, first and second grade students in Bay County will take the test this week.