FACEOFF: Is the FAST Testing System Better Than FSA?

Ella Pedroso and Valentina Arias

Yes (E.P)

As a Senior who has taken the Florida State Assessment – more popularly known as FSA –  countless times, I have experienced firsthand the frustration that accompanies FSA testing. After a full school year of learning subject matter, students take a test covering topics they learned months ago but have forgotten or become rusty on. Once the scores are out, students who earned a low score do not even receive reports on what subjects need improvement. 

I believe that proposing the Florida Assessment for Student Thinking  has taken a much-needed step in the right direction. With FAST, students’ test scores measure their improvement over the year, rather than one single test at the end. Unlike the FSA, the FAST test customizes questions for each student, rather than having the same questions for everyone, aiding in individualizing the learning process. Additionally, the scores for the FSA come out after the school year, making it too late to improve on that subject. The FAST test provides teachers with specific topics that students struggle with, allowing teachers to work with them during the year and improve their teaching at the same time. 

FSA testing rates students on a scale from 1-5, defining a student by a number. In past years, FSA test scores have also gotten lower and lower, with passing rates not even reaching 50%. With FAST testing, scores hopefully will rise as teachers have access to what subject matter to focus on, and students will feel the stress of a numerical value lifted from their shoulders. 

No (V.A)

The newly adapted Florida Assessment of Student Thinking, more commonly known as FAST, testing system is not an improvement of the Florida Standardized Assessment, known as FSA, and many students taking the new form of testing this year do not have a positive view on it.

This new form of testing entails students from VPK(Voluntary Prekindergarten)-10th grade to take an English language arts test and for students VPK-8th grade to take a mathematics test. The FAST test will have students take three tests per subject throughout the year. One at the beginning of the school year, one during the middle and one at the end.

This has caused many students to be irritated about testing because they have to take two more tests than they originally had to. This not only makes them have to spend more time in the testing rooms throughout the year, but also has them leaving class and missing information they needed to learn because of the fact they have more than just one test to take; making FAST tests redundant.

Faculty at Florida schools also have to spend their time gathering information about this new test during meetings by the school, taking them away from scheduling plans for classes and overloading them with all this new information they are forced to learn. While the FAST test is supposed to be a newer version of the FSA, it is really not that at all. It may have a new name, but that doesn’t mean it is better than what FSA brought to the table.

While students are getting more accurate test results since it calculates their scores from all three tests that were given at different times it still raises the question of whether it is worth it? Without being in class for triple the number of times students lose valuable information that teachers teach students. 

More will be said once all the testing is done and more results come back, but it still hasn’t convinced many as of now that it is truly the better testing option for Florida. It may give us test scores quicker, but for all this hassle was it truly worth it to switch from FSA testing to FAST testing? The answer is no.