Florida students showed greater improvement on end-of-course exams than FCAT 2.0 in results released today.
Education Commissioner Tony Bennett is responding like a disappointed dad to news that Florida students did a little bit better on their standardized tests this year, but not as well as he would have liked.
They show across-the-board improvement on EOC assessments, particularly in Biology 1 and Geometry.
In a press release, DOE said FCAT 2.0 Reading scores increased in grades 6, 8, 9 and 10. For FCAT 2.0 Mathematics, grade 4 showed improvement. In FCAT 2.0 Science, grade 5 showed improvement and grade 8 remained the same.
But the scores didn’t move enough to appease Bennett.
“The FCAT results are flat, and I find that personally unacceptable,” Bennett said. “I think we have to refocus our efforts on reading and making sure our students have the foundational skills necessary in mathematics.”
Bennett said the FCAT scores weren’t disastrous; they simply looked unimpressive compared to EOC assessment results that were very good.
(Florida Polytechnic University – the 12th in the system – doesn’t begin classes until August 2014.)
The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) and The James Madison Institute are the groups behind the assessment.
“Overall, Florida public universities are on a prudent and successful course during these difficult economic times,” researchers wrote. “Significant challenges and difficult decisions over priorities remain. It is clear, however, that Florida has high potential to be a model for other states.”
While state funding for the system fell from $2.6 billion to $1.7 billion between 2007 and 2012, the report finds a six-year graduation rate of 66 percent – putting Florida in the top ten nationally.
The average middle school in Orange County has 1,000 students. The new K-8 schools will have similar student populations.
“Our research has shown that the optimal size of a K-8 is 900 to 1,200 students,” Jenkins said. “Anything larger, and we need to build a traditional middle school. Anything smaller, and we cannot justify the operating costs.”
He stayed on point with his message: School choice, merit-based pay for teachers, and higher academic standards are good; Unions and social promotion of students are bad.
Bush said being competitive in a global economy means measuring everything American students do against the best students in the world.
“Higher standards is a key element of that. The Common Core State Standards are clear and straight forward,” Bush said. “They will allow for more innovation in the classroom; less regulation. They’ll equip students to compete with their peers across the globe.”
“The greatest mistake we make in public education is underestimating the capacity of our children to learn. When we do that, particularly with our at risk kids,” Bush said, “we take from them the right to rise.”
Bush said America isn’t rising to the challenge, because only 4 in 10 kids who “go through the most expensive education process in the world” are ready for college or a career by the end of 12th grade. Continue Reading →
Superintendent Mike Grego is wrapping up his first school year as head of Pinellas County Schools.
Education leaders gathered in Orlando today for a summit sponsored by the Florida Sterling Council, a not-for-profit corporation supported by the Executive Office of the Governor.
The summit covered a wide range of issues facing schools and universities.
Pinellas Superintendent Mike Grego laid out his plan to move the district forward as the state transitions to Common Core standards. Florida schools are scheduled to use the new standards in every grade by the fall of 2014.
The district will need to establish goals in critical need areas and hold the players accountable, he said.
Grego’s five goals include improving student performance, especially at schools with a higher percentage of students living in poverty; improving district reading instruction; ensuring schools are safe and reducing staff turnover; balancing the district budget; and making sure school technology is up to date and ready for online end-of-course exams.
“While we have relatively static third grade reading and math scores, we think the writing component is a real step forward,” Bennett said, noting that scores for third-graders didn’t change much from last year.
Overall, 3rd grade students increased their reading scores by one percentage point and math scores stayed the same.
“I am a person that doesn’t believe that static scores are really ever acceptable. We can’t be satisfied,” Bennett said, “and frankly I think the flat performance in reading is something we should take special notice to given our emphasis on reading.”
“We intend to drill into the data with our districts,” Bennett said, “help our districts come up with improvement plans to make sure we are improving ourselves in those areas.”
On a positive note, 4th graders saw a nine-point increase in the percentage of students scoring at 3.5 or higher in writing.
“The 4th grade writing results, I think, show incredible improvement,” Bennett said.
As Florida transitions to Common Core State Standards, Bennett said he expects to see improvement in all areas because teachers will be better able to meet “the instructional needs of students.”
Next year, students will again take FCAT 2.0 Reading, Writing and Math – then switch to the new Common Core assessments in 2014-15.