Make us your home page
Instagram

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 jdalexander@sptimes.com 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

Loading...
  1. Philippines forces make gains in city under siege by ISIS-linked militants

    MARAWI, Philippines — Philippine forces say they now control most of a southern city where militants linked to the Islamic State group launched a bloody siege nearly a week ago.

  2. Rays exhausted but happy after 15-inning win over Twins (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — Before the Rays eventually won Sunday's 6½-hour, 15-inning marathon against the Twins 8-6, they did plenty to lose it. And we need to get that out of the way first.

    The Rays’ Evan Longoria enjoys a laugh after scoring, barely, to tie it in the ninth on Steven Souza Jr.’s two-out single.
  3. Tom Jones' Two Cents: ABC's Indy 500 coverage is stellar again

    TV and Radio

    Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Best coverage

    Takuma Sato left, celebrates after winning the Indianapolis 500 as Helio Castroneves is a little late passing him. ABC’s coverage of the race is stellar throughout, with plenty of extras but no fake drama.
  4. Takuma Sato surprise winner of wreck-filled Indy 500

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Takuma Sato, a journeyman driver, became the first Japanese winner of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday when he held off three-time champion Helio Castroneves in a 230-mph wheel-rubbing duel to the finish.

    Scott Dixon’s car goes over the top of Jay Howard, soaring so high that Helio Castroneves drove under it while it was airborne. Stunningly, there were no serious injuries.
  5. South Korea military: North Korea fires unidentified projectile

    World

    SEOUL — North Korea launched a ballistic missile early today that flew 280 miles and landed in Japan's exclusive economic zone, the South Korean military and the Japanese government said.

    S. Korean President Moon Jae-in is assessing the launch.