BROOKSVILLE — The scores of Hernando County's third-graders suffered considerably in the face of a tougher version of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, but they performed equal to or better on average than their state counterparts.
In reading, 59 percent of the county's third-graders performed at or above grade level, compared with 76 percent last year.
In math, 58 percent earned proficient scores, compared with 79 percent last year.
Despite the more rigorous test, the percentage of students failing the reading portion bumped up just one point from last year, to 14. That equates to about 191 students.
Third-grade scores are important because third-graders who earn a 1 in reading may be held back if they cannot demonstrate their grade-level proficiency by an alternate test or a portfolio, unless they qualify for a state-approved exemption.
Statewide, 56 percent of students earned a 3 or above on the reading portion, while 18 percent earned a 1.
Superintendent Bryan Blavatt said he was encouraged by some of the numbers. He noted, though, that the school-by-school picture shows more work to do.
At four schools, fewer than half of the third-graders tested at grade level in reading. At four others, only about half earned a proficient score.
Still, Blavatt noted, there is a general downward trend at several schools in the number of students performing at the lowest levels.
"I would say that's one of our strongest points," he said. "Our own homegrown students that are in remediation, we're able to really move them up."
He said the district also needs to spend time with higher-performing students.
"The teachers are the key, as always," he said. "There are certain teachers, no matter the kids they have year after year, who perform at higher levels. That's what you replicate."
The third-graders' scores come on the heels of results that showed Hernando's high school freshmen and sophomores performed better than last year on the reading, despite a more rigorous version of the FCAT. The writing scores for fourth-, eighth- and 10th-graders, however, came in below the state average.
This year's scores are important because they are part of the data that will be used in teacher evaluations, said Joe Vitalo, president of the Hernando Classroom Teachers Association. The evaluation system is based on student growth, Vitalo said.
"I think it's a good starting point for us anytime we're at or above state average," he said.
Staff writer Jeffrey S. Solochek contributed to this report. Tony Marrero can be reached at (352) 848-1431 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hernando third-grade FCAT results
|Percent performing at or above grade level. (State average in parentheses.)|
|Reading||59% (56%)||76% (72%)|
|Math||58% (58%)||79% (78%)|
|Percent scoring 1 out of 5 on reading portion, a failing score.|
|14% (18%)||16% (13%)|
|Percent performing at or above grade level|
* School opened in 2011
Source: Florida Department of Education