Any children left behind?
About 300 Florida third graders, it appears. That's the number of kids who got promoted to fourth grade last year only because of the now infamous 2006 FCAT scoring snafu, and who didn't qualify for any additional services afterward. They're now a priority for the state, interim commissioner Jeanine Blomberg says. "We feel the majority of the students did receive additional services," Blomberg said during an FCAT advisory panel meeting in Tampa. "We will continue to focus on the additional 300 students."
She meant that the 300 kids comprised a small portion of the 13,468 third graders who really shouldn't have been promoted last year, but were. Of the larger group, 6,326 scored Level 1 again on the reading FCAT, 3,332 made it to Level 2 and 2,130 earned Level 3, or grade-level. Better? Not many. Just 150 scored at Level 4, and four got to Level 5. And just about all of them received extra help because they fell into one or more categories where it's required: about 1,900 had learning disabilities, 900 were English language learners, 4,800 qualified for free or reduced-price lunch, and 4,500 were in Title I schools.
John Hilderbrand, retired Hillsborough research and evaluation director, found at least one bright spot in those numbers. The 2,300 kids who jumped from Level 1 to Level 3 or better did "remarkably well," he said, proving that the accountability system and the school districts' curricula are doing something right.
(Times photo, 2004 third-grade reading camp)