Published: Nov 22, 2011 11:26 PM EST
Updated: Nov 22, 2011 11:31 PM EST

LEE COUNTY, Fla.- There's new controversy surrounding the state-wide FCAT exam. Changes are on the way that could make the test harder and also increase the cut off for students to pass.

Superintendent Dr. Joseph Burke admits the new FCAT 2.0 won't be easy for the Lee School District.

"I think it is a stressor for the students and the teachers. We are going to be working on that as much as we can," Dr. Burke said Tuesday.

Under the proposed changes set to go into effect next school year, the State Board of Education would up the ante of the FCAT and what constitutes a passing score.

Under the new guidelines, 15%, or close to 1,000 Lee County 3rd graders, would have failed the Reading portion of the FCAT based on their scores this year. 22%, or about 1,500 3rd graders would have failed the Math portion of the test.

"On the one hand, it's going to make it look like students are doing more poorly. But in reality, what we know is that students are going to be learning more because we’ve raised the expectations," Burke said.

Some Lee County educators aren't happy.

"My initial reaction was OK, here we go again," Donna Mutzenard of the Florida Education Association said Tuesday.

Mutzenard says the new standards could impact the Teacher Merit Pay System when it's implemented in 2014. She says it’s another stressor that’s driving good teachers out.

"I've had a lot of teachers come to me and say, I don't know if it's worth teaching anymore. I'm not teaching...I'm teaching a test. It might be time for me to find another profession," Mutzenard said.

Dr. Burke told WINK News they plan on doing a district-wide audit of curriculum to make sure teachers and students have the right foundation to succeed under the new guidelines.
The State Board of Education will vote on the new requirements on December 5th.