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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

FCAT reading results show improved performance despite concerns

Increased passing scores for the FCAT reading test did not have the same negative effect as changes to the FCAT writing standards, preliminary results indicate.

Larger percentages of Florida’s ninth and tenth graders earned a passing score of 3.0 or better on the FCAT reading exam this year than they did a year ago. That’s despite complaints by superintendents across Florida that a higher “cut” score would lead to increased failures and more time and money spent on remedial work.

Early numbers show that 52 percent of ninth graders and 50 percent of tenth graders scored 3.0 or higher on the reading exam, up from 48 percent and 39 percent, respectively, a year ago.

In the Tampa Bay area, Pasco’s ninth and tenth graders exceeded the state passing rate, with 54 percent of freshmen and 51 percent of sophomores making a passing mark. Pinellas and Hernando ninth graders bested the state passing rate, as did Hillsborough tenth graders. Students in all four districts at both grade levels improved their passing rates from a year earlier.

“We are asking more from our students and teachers than we ever have, and I am proud of their hard work,” education commissioner Gerard Robinson said in a release. “Florida’s higher standards help ensure students are learning what they are expected to know so that they are prepared for college, career, and life. As Florida transitions to higher standards and higher expectations, we can expect our assessment results to reflect those changes.”

Those results stand in stark contrast to the state’s FCAT writing scores, which were so poor that the State Board of Education this week decided to reduce the passing level from 4.0 to 3.0 on the six-point scale.

Statewide, the average writing score was 3.3 for fourth grade, 3.3 for eighth grade and 3.4 for tenth grade. That translated into only about one-third of students across Florida passing the writing test.

Amid complaints from parents and educators, the board decreased the passing score so that the percentage of students showing proficiency rose to 81 percent in fourth grade, 78 percent in eighth grade and 84 percent in tenth grade.

Locally, Hillsborough schools exceeded the state performance in all three grade levels. Pinellas outperformed the state in fourth and tenth, Pasco schools were above the state average in tenth only, while Hernando schools scored below the state level in all three grades.

See more details from the state here. We'll keep updating this story throughout the day as we get more information.

[Last modified: Friday, May 18, 2012 11:18am]


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