CROP brings new meaning to “teaching to the test”

In this age of school accountability, educators often complain that they are being pushed to “teach to the test.” After all, how are kids going to become true lifelong learners if their academic aspirations begin and end with passing the FCAT? The College Reach-Out Program, a state program based at UF’s College of Education, is working to correct that, with a summer camp that teaches all three FCAT subjects through the lens of future careers.

The FCAT Summer Resource Program is a three-week summer camp, held each June, that introduces low-income and educationally disadvantaged middle-school students to careers they can enjoy if they master key skills in reading, writing, science and mathematics. Yes, those subjects just happen to be the core subjects assessed on the FCAT. By focusing on real-world goals rather than a standardized test, the theory goes, the summer camp motivates students to do better in those core skills—and on the FCAT itself.

The FCAT Summer Resource Program typically brings in around a dozen kids for tours of UF’s various colleges and talks with practitioners in each field. This summer, for instance, during the reading/writing portion of the camp, students met journalists from The Gainesville Sun and lawyers at the Alachua County Courthouse. Lesson plans also included project-based assignments—such as penning their own play or using math skills in measuring ingredients for a snack they themselves cooked.

The College Reach-Out Program, also known as CROP, is a statewide project designed to increase the number of educationally and economically disadvantaged students who successfully complete a postsecondary education. Participating students are introduced to the academic world beyond high school by Florida higher education institutions.

For more information, call the CROP office at 392-5243 or go to