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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Commissioner Robinson bucks reactor panels in recommending FCAT cut scores




Florida education commissioner Gerard Robinson is recommending cut scores for the high school FCAT reading exam that are two points higher than the levels supported by a majority of the state's superintendents.

District leaders repeatedly have advocated for the Level 3 cut score of 238 in ninth grade and 243 in tenth grade, saying those could be justified by months of research into the data and testing studies that they had reviewed. Some political leaders, including folks tied to former governor Jeb Bush's education foundation, called for higher scores, saying that Florida should hold its students to high standards — despite superintendents' arguments that the high school cut scores already were too high, making it look as if successful students were failing.

Superintendents backed recommendations to increase the cut scores at the elementary level, saying they have been low for years, giving the false impression to many students that they were succeeding at grade level when they were not.

Days after a workshop on the issue, Robinson released his proposed scores late Wednesday — 240 for ninth grade and 245 for tenth. That's two points higher than the state "reactor panels" supported. Superintendents have said each point represents an additional 7,000 students statewide who would not pass the exam.

"FCAT 2.0 and the Algebra I end of course assessment, based on the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards, are designed to test Florida's students on more rigorous material," Robinson said in a release. "The standards I am recommending today reflect this, raising the bar for Florida's children from 3rd through 10th grade and ensuring that our students are on the path to graduating career and college ready. For the first time in Florida's history, our graduation requirements are aligned with college readiness and our standards are consistent across grade levels. Parents, teachers and administrators will now be able to identify those children who need additional help earlier so that they can graduate college ready.

"I would like to thank the educators who began this process, along with the business, community and education leaders who closely examined the data and offered recommendations based on a broader policy perspective, and the members of the State Board of Education, whose workshops led to my final recommendations. While these recommended scores raise standards, I am confident that Florida's children will meet them, just as they have before."

The State Board of Education is scheduled to meet on Dec. 19 to vote on the final cut scores.

[Last modified: Wednesday, December 7, 2011 10:36pm]


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