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What Florida’s New Reading Exam Means For Your Third Grader

Third graders who earn the lowest score on Florida's new statewide reading test this school year, are still at risk of repeating third grade.

OSDE / Flickr

Third graders who earn the lowest score on Florida's new statewide reading test this school year, are still at risk of repeating third grade.

We’ve been answering audience questions about Florida’s new statewide test, the Florida Standards Assessments.

A parent asked us on Facebook: “Please find out for us parents of third graders, who face mandatory retention if they fail the new reading assessment this spring, how the state plans to deal with them. Will they return to 3rd grade after the cut scores are determined in Winter 2015?”

The bottom line: third graders can still be held back next year if they score the equivalent of a 1, out of 5, on the reading test. But those students are still eligible to to advance to fourth grade through one of state’s exemptions, including a portfolio or passing an alternative exam.

Florida students will begin taking the Florida Standards Assessments beginning in early March, with testing running on and off through mid-May. But the State Board of Education isn’t expected to set final targets — known as cut scores — until Winter 2015.

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Your Guide To The Florida Standards Assessments

We’re taking this week to help parents and students understand the new Florida Standards Assessments, which students will take for the first time beginning in March.

The math, reading and writing exam (reading and writing are combined as English language arts) is intended to measure how well students in third through eleventh grades understand Florida’s Common Core-based standards. The standards outline what students should know at the end of each grade.

We’ve pulled together the most important things to know about the new exam in this presentation. Click on the right or left side of the slide to advance or go back.

Meet Florida’s New Statewide Test

This is a sample math question from the Florida Standards Assessment. The questions asks students to...

Screen shot / Florida Department of Education

This is a sample math question from the Florida Standards Assessment. The questions asks students to fill in the blanks, but provides more possible choices than answer spaces.

This spring, Florida students will take a brand new test tied to the state’s new math, reading and writing standards.

This is the test that replaces the FCAT. It’s known as the Florida Standards Assessment, and it’ll be online.

What’s on the test won’t be the only thing different about the exam. Students will also find new types of questions.

We gathered your questions about the new exam from our Public Insight Network. Here’s what you you wanted to know — and what it’ll mean for students and schools.

Bill Younkin from Miami Beach is wondering about the fact that the exam’s online.

“What type of test will it be? How will it be administered?” he asks. “Will there be a paper and pencil alternative? What types of questions will it contain? How long will it take to administer?”

Last year, Florida students took 3.8 million tests using computers – so online exams are nothing new in Florida. But the Florida Standards Assessment is different from past exams

The new exam will be more interactive (you can see practice questions here).

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Charting Florida College And University Graduates By Pay

The Florida Department of Education released the first edition of an annual report compiling Florida college and university graduate earning data last week.

Generally, graduates with science degrees were more likely to earn more in their first year of employment after college.

But which school’s graduates earned the most money? Check out these charts created with report data. First, bachelor degrees:

Graduates earning bachelor degrees from Florida International University and Florida Atlantic University had the highest median income in their first year of work.

Economic Security Report / Florida Department of Education

Graduates earning bachelor degrees from Florida International University and Florida Atlantic University had the highest median income in their first year of work.

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How Florida’s Graduation Rates Compare To The Nation

Florida’s graduation rate increased by five percentage points between the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 school years, according to new U.S. Department of Education graduation rate data released today. But despite the improving rate, just six states and the District of Columbia have a lower graduation rate than Florida –the same number as last year.

4-28 GraduationRates

The bright spots? Florida’s graduation rates for Hispanic students and English language learners are near the national average. Just eight states have a lower dropout rate than Florida, at 2.1 percent. The national dropout rate is 3.3 percent.

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The Florida Tests Which Will Remain After The Switch To Common Standards

The FCAT will mostly disappear from Florida schools next year. But like a zombie, the state's science exam will still carry the FCAT name.

Scott Beale / Flickr

The FCAT will mostly disappear from Florida schools next year. But the state's science exam will still carry the FCAT name.

The final bell begins tolling today for the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.

Florida schools are scheduled to complete the switch to new K-12 math and language arts standards based on Common Core this fall. New standards will require a new test.

So Florida is switching to math and language arts exams produced by the American Institutes for Research.

FCAT is going away — with one exception. Fifth and eighth grade students will still take the FCAT science exam. Florida State University physics professor Paul Cottle noted the exam will stagger on:

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Florida Matters: Choosing The Next FCAT

Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart will soon choose an FCAT replacement.

shinealight / Flickr

Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart will soon choose an FCAT replacement.

Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart is expected to recommend a test to (mostly) replace the FCAT this month.

A new test is needed because Florida is finishing the switch to new K-12 math, language arts and literacy standards this fall. The standards are largely based on Common Core standards fully adopted by 44 other states and the District of Columbia.

This evening, WUSF’s Florida Matters takes a look at the test decision with University of South Florida education historian Sherman Dorn, Pasco County assistant superintendent Amelia Van Name Larson, and Melissa Kicklighter, a vice president with the Florida PTA.

Dorn said we won’t know how much will change with the test until the decision is announced.

“It might be tests that are interesting and challenging,” he said. “It might be tests that are very close to what students experience with FCAT — or somewhere in between.”

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Explaining The Florida Tuition Law Gov. Rick Scott Wants To Repeal

Gov. Rick Scott is asking lawmakers to revoke a law which allows state universities to request up to an additional 15 percent tuition increase.

John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

Gov. Rick Scott is asking lawmakers to revoke a law which allows state universities to request up to an additional 15 percent tuition increase.

Gov. Rick Scott is asking lawmakers to eliminate the state’s tuition differential law, which allows universities to request as much as a 15 percent tuition increase each year.

Scott has fought higher education tuition hikes since he took office in 2011.

“We are changing how we fund higher education,” Scott said, according to the prepared version of his State of the State speech, “but if we want to make higher education more accessible to low and middle-income families we have to make it more affordable.

“We will hold the line on tuition,” he added moments later.

Lawmakers are talking about reducing the hikes to a maximum of 6 percent each year.

But what is tuition differential?

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