Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco ESE students beat state average on Florida Alternative Assessment

LAND O'LAKES — Pasco County special education students outperformed the state average on the annual Florida Alternate Assessment test this year, with about three-quarters of them scoring at proficiency levels in each subject area.

Their performance marks a slight improvement in math and writing from 2011, while the reading scores held steady.

"This is not a surprise for us," said Jackie Choo, a district supervisor of exceptional student education. "We have been doing a lot of work to raise expectations and to provide supports for those increased expectations. We are very, very pleased with the results."

In the past, the results of the FAA test have not garnered any attention. Given to students for whom taking the FCAT is considered "inappropriate, even with accommodations," the exam has not been a major factor beyond determining how those students are advancing in school.

When the state won a waiver from federal No Child Left Behind requirements this year, though, it also had to agree to count the testing proficiency of all students in its education accountability system. That meant students' FAA levels would come into play for school grades for the first time.

The test is graded on a 1 through 9 scale, with scores of 4 or higher considered as proficient levels.

Some parents applauded the idea of counting every child, saying that school leaders would take their children's education more seriously knowing they would be included in the accountability measures. Some school leaders expressed concerns that the state might be hurting schools by using the children's proficiency results, rather than looking at their gains.

A good number of the students who take the FAA have severe disabilities.

The State Board of Education aimed to strike a balance by giving additional credit to students who make learning gains on the FAA greater than the minimum, while also making clear that FAA results would be included in school grading right alongside the FCAT.

In Pasco, 585 students took the FAA reading exam, with 77 percent scoring a 4 or better. In math, 588 students took the test, with 77 percent scoring 4 or better. Smaller numbers took the writing and science exams, with passing rates of 73 percent and 75 percent, respectively.

Statewide, 71 percent of students taking the FAA reading exam, and 66 percent of those taking the math portion, scored at a proficient level.

Choo said the district had taken great strides to train teachers with the increasing academic standards, working with other organizations to find the best instructional methods for students with special needs.

"It is exciting to see the work that teachers do with students every day is paying off," she said.

The Florida Department of Education also recently gave Pasco's exceptional student education programs its top mark for the district's work meeting the requirements and purpose of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

"If you have high expectations for students, even those with disabilities, they will rise to those expectations, given proper levels of support," district spokeswoman Summer Romagnoli said.

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at, (813) 909-4614 or on Twitter @jeffsolochek. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at

Pasco ESE students beat state average on Florida Alternative Assessment 06/14/12 [Last modified: Thursday, June 14, 2012 7:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Woman killed in overnight Temple Terrace apartment fire, city says


    TEMPLE TERRACE — A woman died early Sunday as a result of a fire at an apartment complex, city officials said.

  2. Video: Indianapolis 500 drivers in fiery crash somehow walk away uninjured

    Auto racing

    Scott Dixon and Jay Howard avoided injury in a spectacular crash - or what Dixon labeled "a wild ride" afterward - during the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday.

  3. Homeland security chief defends Kushner's alleged proposal for 'back channel' to the Russians as 'a good thing"


    Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, the lone administration official to speak out publicly about reports that Jared Kushner sought a back channel to communicate with the Russian government, defended the move, saying it was a "good thing" for the U.S. government.

    Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, listens during a meeting with small business leaders at the White House on Jan. 30. [Washington Post photo by Jabin Botsford]
  4. After hard charging on health care in 2016, Marco Rubio is slow, careful


    As a presidential candidate, Marco Rubio pitched an Obamacare replacement and tore into Donald Trump for not having one. "What is your plan? What is your plan on health care? You don't have a plan," the Florida senator aggressively challenged in a February 2016 debate.

  5. Report: Florida counties part of liver disease cluster


    STUART — Four counties along Florida's Treasure Coast make up a cluster with high rates of both deaths from liver disease and algae blooms.