Flunk the FCAT, still pass go?
Florida's rising graduation rate generated some nice headlines last week, but one of the reasons for it may deserve a closer look: The skyrocketing number of kids who graduated even though they failed to pass the tenth grade FCAT.
Those kids still managed to get a standard diploma because they earned what the state considers a comparable score on the ACT or SAT. (The comparable ACT scores are 15 in reading and math. For the SAT, it's 410 in reading and 370 in math.)
Last year, 6,546 graduating seniors fit into this category – a 64 percent increase from two years ago, according to figures obtained by the Gradebook from the Florida Department of Education. Meanwhile, the total number of graduates increased by 5,995 over that time – enough for a 3-percent spike.
The "alternate assessment" kids are clearly a big reason why Pinellas's grad rate improved so much. But how big a factor are they in the feel-good state story? Could they be THE reason why our grad rates are up so much?
"We've asked staff to look," DOE spokesman Tom Butler told The Gradebook. "It certainly could be a large contributor, but we really need some analysis to say for sure."
- Ron Matus, state education reporter