Don't blame the FCAT for this one
Contrary to concerns raised early in the Jeb era, the FCAT graduation policy has NOT resulted in higher high school dropout rates, says a report issued Friday by the Legislature's respected research arm. Not only has the grad rate gone up (slightly) since the policy went into effect in the 1999-2000 school year, but the percentage of students passing the 10th grade reading and math FCATs (which is what they must to do to get a standard diploma) has nearly doubled, according to the Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability.
OPPAGA analysts tracked students who entered 9th grade in the 1998-1999 school year - the year before the policy went into effect - as well as the cohorts for the next three years. The percentage of kids earning standard diplomas four years later went from 62.9 percent in 2002 to 65.0 percent in 2005. Meanwhile, while only 38 percent of the class of 2002 passed both tests, 66 percent of the class of 2005 did.
Says the report: "This improved performance may be due to improved instruction focused on meeting the Sunshine State Standards, more students retaking the tests, and/or schools providing additional remedial services. Districts reported providing additional remedial services including frequent monitoring, intensive tutoring, intensive remediation math and reading classes, and after-school assistance."
Could one possible translation of that be: The FCAT did some good?
- Ron Matus, state education reporter