Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

910 Pasco kids might have to repeat Grade 3

TRINITY — Kathryn Rushe never looks forward to this time of year, when she has to tell parents that their third-graders might have to repeat the grade because of poor scores on the FCAT reading exam.

"This is just an unfair thing," said Trinity Elementary principal Rushe, who expects to retain two students this year. "This is a 45-minute snapshot on one day in the life of a child."

But the state mandates retaining third-graders who score Level 1 on the test, unless they qualify for a "good cause" exception, such as passing a second test that will be offered later this month. So Rushe, like elementary principals and teachers around the state, began making calls soon after receiving results Wednesday.

About 910 Pasco County parents were to get the word — a decrease of 40 from last year.

Superintendent Heather Fiorentino focused on the improvement.

"We have fewer kids that are in Level 1 than last year," she said. "We also believe because of 'good cause' at least 50 percent of those students should pass, be promoted up."

Overall, 17 percent of Pasco's third-graders failed the reading FCAT, down 2 percentage points from a year ago. Seventy-two percent received a score of Level 3 (considered grade-level proficient) or better on the exam, up from 68 percent and even with the state passing rate.

Two-thirds of elementary schools saw improvement or no change in the percentage of students at the lowest level.

In math, 69 percent of Pasco third-graders earned a score of Level 3 or better, up one point from a year ago but below all neighboring districts and the state rate. More than half of the elementary schools improved their math passing rates.

Fiorentino said it was important that the majority of high-poverty schools improved. She credited the district's adoption of the Learning Focused Solutions teaching strategy and said its continued use should bring even better results in the future.

One of those Title I schools, Cox Elementary in Dade City, continued to have the highest percentage of students scoring Level 1 on the reading section. But its 37 percent of students at Level 1 marked a 5 percentage point improvement from last year's results.

Cox also saw a 14-point gain in students performing at grade level on the math exam, with more than half of its third-graders (55 percent) scoring at Level 3 or above. Principal Leila Mizer expressed some hope that her school might avoid restructuring under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

"It's not as good as we wanted it to be, but we are impressed that our math came up significantly," Mizer said. "I'm hoping that it holds for all our other grades as well. Things are looking up."

Not so for nearby Lacoochee Elementary, where student performance dropped markedly from a year ago. Just 37 percent of third-graders scored Level 3 or better on the math test, down from 73 percent. And 59 percent made Level 3 or higher on reading, down 10 points, while 22 percent failed, up from 9 percent.

That news dampened the excitement that Lacoochee's fourth-graders topped the district on the writing FCAT.

Principal Karen Marler said she's already begun reviewing what went wrong and how to avoid the same mistakes, noting that some staffing decisions might have made a difference.

"We are going to work hard with our faculty, staff, children and community to ensure we prosper in all areas, not just some," Marler said.

Hudson Elementary, which also faces restructuring, emphasized reading skills with third-graders as part of its improvement plan because of the retention issue. "Retention can really affect them long term," principal Linda McCarthy said. "It's hard, because at this point there's really nothing we can do to make it go away."

Hudson saw an eight-point jump in third-graders at Level 3 or better on reading, to 66 percent. But its math performance dipped by 13 points, to 52 percent earning Level 3 or higher. McCarthy said she expected math instruction to play a big role in next year's plans.

Trinity Elementary led all non-charter schools in its performance, making double-digit gains in students scoring Level 3 or higher in both math and reading. Ninety percent of the school's third-graders hit the mark.

"All the credit goes to the kids and the teachers," Rushe said. "If pride is a sin, then I'm sinning today."

The state is expected to release FCAT scores for fourth- through 10th-grade students in early June. School grades are due in mid July.

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at solochek@sptimes.com or (813) 909-4614. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at blogs.tampabay.com/schools.

Third-grade FCAT results

(percentage passing)

To see school results, visit the Florida Department of Education Web site at http://fcat.fldoe.org/results/default.asp. Individual results will be posted at 6 a.m. Friday at www.fcatparentnetwork.com.

DistrictReading '08Reading '07Math '08Math '07
Pasco72686968
Pinellas72707877
Hillsborough71677472
Hernando76747877
State72697674

Source: Florida Department of Education

910 Pasco kids might have to repeat Grade 3 05/21/08 [Last modified: Friday, May 23, 2008 4:18pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Justice Department says civil rights law does not protect gay people

    Working Life

    The Department of Justice has filed court papers arguing that a major federal civil rights law does not protect employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation in a case now being considered by a New York appeals court.

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions boards his plane at Andrews Air Force Base on Thursday. Sessions is traveling to El Salvador to meet with local leaders and discuss their efforts to fight gangs like MS-13. [Pablo Martinez Monsivais | Associated Press]
  2. St. Pete City Council plans to discuss plastic bag ban

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — A City Council committee will start considering a citywide ban on single-use plastic bags at Thursday afternoon's meeting. If it were to adopt such a measure, it would be the second city to do so in Florida.

  3. Ramsberger chosen for Chief Justice Award

    Courts

    The Florida Supreme Court's Chief Justice presented Pinellas Circuit Judge Peter R. Ramsberger the 2017 Chief Justice Award for Judicial Excellence.

    Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Peter R. Ramsberger was presented the Chief Justice Award for Judicial Excellence by Chief Justice Jorge Labarga.
  4. Joint Chiefs chairman says military's transgender policy unchanged for now

    Military

    WASHINGTON — The U.S. will continue to permit transgender individuals to serve openly in the military until Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has received President Donald Trump's "direction" to change the policy and figured out how to implement it, the nation's top military officer said Thursday.

    Protestors gather in Times Square on Wednesday in New York. The rally was held after President Donald Trump's announcement of a ban on transgender troops serving anywhere in the U.S. military. [Frank Franklin II | Associated Press]
  5. Hudson accused of impersonating police officer

    Crime

    HUDSON — Pasco sheriff's deputies arrested a man on charges of impersonating a law enforcement officer after he was accused of pulling over a motorist and claiming to be an off-duty policeman.

    Scott Ziegler [Photo Courtesy of Pasco County Sheriff's Office]