Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

FCAT margin of error is small

TARPON SPRINGS — The difference between a good grade and a dismal grade isn't much, principal Kent Vermeer of Tarpon Springs High said.

Just two students and one point.

The latest FCAT scores, released Tuesday, say Tarpon Springs High has earned a D on the state report card.

But Vermeer said the school made 494 points, only one point shy of a B grade. While enough for the C grade, the school grade was still dropped one letter because only 48 percent of students in the bottom 25 percent made adequate progress.

That's about two students, or 2 percent, shy of the 50 percent threshold the state requires, Vermeer said.

"Sometimes I don't think the public understands how few students it takes to be the difference between a single grade," he said.

The D grade alone will be enough to send some parents running and screaming, Sue Geier said. Her daughter, Moriah, will be a freshman in the fall.

"It's so alarming," she said initially. "I really thought Tarpon was going to score better."

The FCAT, administered to students in grades 3 through 11 in February and March, tests students in mathematics, reading, science and writing.

Tarpon Springs Mayor Beverley Billiris, a former teacher, said the FCAT reflects "no way near" the school's actual performance level.

"I think it's appalling that a whole school is held accountable because you might have two challenged students," she said.

Vermeer said half of the low-performing students missed about 15 days during the spring semester, when the test is administered.

"It's tough to have them show learning gains when they don't come to school," he said.

Roger Sellew, chairman of the school's advisory council, said the test is not indicative of the average student.

"It's reflective of getting the kids at the bottom 25 percent involved," he said.

The school boasts culinary arts and veterinary programs as well as a lot of students earning college credit, Vermeer said.

"It's an excellent school and they have excellent teachers," Billiris said. "It's one of the best schools in Pinellas County."

Vermeer said he plans to re-evaluate classrooms, teachers and curriculum to bring scores up, including using college professors to teach English teachers reading strategies.

But Sellew said that although evaluation is needed, changes shouldn't come at the expense of high-performing students.

"(FCAT scores) can be terribly misleading and very well drive the school to do things that aren't necessarily in the best interest of all the students," he said.

Vermeer said the school might appeal. The deadline to appeal is Aug. 8.

Billiris said the FCAT scores might shape the state's view of the classroom, but she has been there firsthand.

"I don't see these results," she said. "I see these kids."

Jackie Alexander can be reached at or (727) 445-4167.

FCAT margin of error is small 07/09/08 [Last modified: Friday, July 11, 2008 8:52pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 10th resident from sweltering Hollywood nursing home dies

    Public Safety

    A 10th person from the Hollywood nursing home that turned into a deadly hothouse after the facility lost power following Hurricane Irma has died, Hollywood police said.

    The Rehabilitation Center of Hollywood Hills, 1200 N. 35th Ave. [EMILHY MICHOT | Miami Herald]
  2. Feeling mental fatigue after Hurricane Irma and other disasters? It's real.


    TAMPA — Blackness. Eyes closed or open, the same.

    A Tampa Bay Times reporter in a sensory deprivation tank used for floating therapy at Sacred Floats & Gems Co. located at 6719 N Nebraska Avenue, in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, September 19, 2017. Floating therapy relaxes people because they experience a sense of zero gravity when they are inside the tank, which contains 150 gallons of water and 1000 pounds of medical grade Epsom salt. ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times
  3. Trump vows more sanctions on North Korea


    President Donald Trump vowed Thursday to impose more sanctions on North Korea as he prepared to meet with his counterparts from Japan and South Korea to seek a common strategy in confronting the isolated nuclear-armed state.

    U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters on Sept. 19, 2017. North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017 in New York described as "the sound of a dog barking" Trump's threat to destroy his country. [Associated Press]
  4. Tampa chamber of commerce votes against tax increase on business property


    TAMPA — The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce on Thursday voted against supporting a city of Tampa plan to raise taxes on commercial properties in the city for 2018. The property tax, included in the city's proposed $974 million budget, would boost taxes from $5.73 to $6.33 for every $1,000 in property value.

    The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce voted against supporting a city tax hike on commercial property. Pictured is Bob Rohrlack, CEO of the chamber. | [Times file photo]
  5. How should St. Pete make up for dumping all that sewage? How about a street sweeper?


    Every crisis has a silver lining.

    In the case of St. Petersburg’s sewage crisis, which spawned state and federal investigations and delivered a state consent decree ordering the city to fix a dilapidated sewer system, the upside is figuring out how to satisfy the $810,000 civil penalty levied by the Florida …

    City Council chairwoman Darden Rice said it was important to chose carefully because residents will be paying attention.