MIAMI (CBSMiami) - The first round of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Tests (FCATs) kicks off Tuesday with the writing portion of the test for 4th, 8th and 10th graders.
In FCAT 2.0 Writing, students are given a writing prompt that provides the topic. Fourth-graders write a narrative and the eighth and 10th-graders write a persuasive essay.
Make-up tests are given Wednesday.
This year, officials with the Florida Department of Education updated a few requirements in hopes of avoiding the controversy that surrounded the writing exam in 2012. Last year, the state toughened the standards, then backtracked on the scoring system when it became clear most students across the state didn't fare that well.
This year, students get an additional 15 minutes to organize and write their essays. The decision to give students one hour to write their essays was based on the increased scoring expectations, which goes into effect this school year, the Florida Department of Education said.
Later this spring, students will receive their writing score, on a 1-6-point scale. While there is no "passing" score for FCAT 2.0 Writing, the recent requirement revisions established that the percentage of students scoring 3.5 or above on Tuesday's assessment will be used as a component in calculating school grades.
South Florida students, along with students all across the state, have been writing practice essays in class for the past couple of months.
For more information about the statewide assessment program, visit the FDOE website: FCAT.FLDOE.org.