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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Florida Board of Education calls emergency meeting as FCAT writing scores tank

The Florida Board of Education has called an emergency conference call session for Tuesday morning to talk about how to handle a huge decline in the percentage of students scoring a passing mark on the FCAT writing exam.

Preliminary data released today shows that just 27 percent of fourth graders scored a Level 4 or higher on the test, compared to 81 percent in 2011. The numbers were 33 percent of eighth graders this year, compared to 82 percent last year; and 38 percent of tenth graders compared to 80 percent. See our story here.

The primary drivers of this steep drop are tougher scoring standards combined with a return to two graders for each test, rather than just one. As a budget-cutting move, the state decided to have just one person score each FCAT writing test in 2011, eliminating half scores such as 3.5 that had existed in the past.

This year, the state added the second scorer back to the mix, but did not return the half scores back into consideration for performance. At the same time, the board made the scoring rubric more difficult.

The preliminary results show that 48 percent of test takers earned a 3.5 or higher. County and school results are not yet available. 

The upshot could be even worse results than expected in the state's accountability system for districts and schools. Board members are scheduled to discuss the impact. The staff recommendation is to return the passing score for purposes of school grading back to 3.5. Stay tuned.

[Last modified: Monday, May 14, 2012 3:45pm]


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