Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Still slow going for Florida minority students in math, science



blackscientist2.Last year, we took a closer look at 2008 FCAT scores to see how many minority students were scoring at the highest levels in math and science. The numbers were headed in the right direction, but nowhere near fast enough for those who want to see a lot more minority scientists and engineers. Two FCAT cycles later, the trend holds true.

Here’s one example: Last year, not a single school district in Florida had more than 10 black students score at Level 5 on the 11th grade science FCAT. This year, one did (Broward, with 16).

Here’s another: Last year, only 50 black 11th-graders statewide scored at the highest level. This year, 64 did.

Percentage-wise, that’s a lot of progress. But in reality?

In math, the percentage of black third-graders scoring at Level 5 has risen from 5 percent to 6 percent since 2008, while the percentage scoring at Level 4 has risen from 19 percent to 21 percent. Things look better in the long view: In 2003, the percentage of black third-graders scoring at those levels was 2 percent and 10 percent, respectively.

In looking up the most recent numbers, I found a big error in last year’s blog post that I must correct and apologize for.

Last year’s post said not a single black student scored at a Level 5 on any of the science FCATs in 2008. That is dead wrong.

The data on the Florida Department of Education website showed the percentage of black students scoring a Level 5 was zero across the board. But the raw numbers were not zero. The DOE evidently rounded down, and I evidently jumped to conclusions. I am sincerely sorry. I hope this post sets the record straight.

Click on the quickie spreadsheet below to see the Level 4 and Level 5 math and science results in 2009-10 (by percentage) for white, black, Hispanic and Asian students. For comparison, you can find the 2003 and 2008 results in last year’s blog post (or do your own number-pulling on the DOE Web site's FCAT demographics section.)

The other attachment, from DOE, shows the number of black students in each district (and statewide) who scored a Level 5 on the FCAT science test in 2009 and 2010. To protect the privacy of individual students, the department does not give a number for districts where the number is smaller than 10. There are no numbers for Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando and dozens of other districts.

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[Last modified: Tuesday, December 28, 2010 2:43pm]


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