Putting Education Reform To The Test

How Many Third Graders Will Be Held Back for Low FCAT Reading Scores?

John-Morgan / FLICKR

More than 36,000 Florida third graders failed the new, tougher version of the FCAT reading exam - called the FCAT 2.0. The Florida Department of Education estimates less than 10,000 third graders will have to repeat the third grade.

More third graders failed the state’s FCAT reading exam than last year — as state education officials warned.

A total of 36,577 third graders — or about 18% of all third grade test takers in the state — failed the FCAT 2.0 reading exam, which is a new, tougher version of the FCAT.

The year before, 32,429 third graders — or 16% of all third grade test takers in the state — failed the easier FCAT reading exam.

Failing the FCAT reading exam as a third grader means students may have to repeat the third grade.

But Education Commission Gerard Robinson says not all of the students who failed the exam will be held back.

Historically, Robinson says the number of students who are retained will drop “from double digit to single digit,” Robinson said.

So he says the number of students who actually end up repeating the third grade could be less than 9,000.

“But we’re not sure yet,” he said. “We have to work with our districts to look at the exemptions.”

A Level 1 is considering a failing score.

There are five levels, but students only need to score a Level 2 in order to move on to the next grade level. Student who score a Level 3 or higher are considered reading at or above grade-level.

But there are exemptions for students who earn a failing score so that some may still move on to the fourth grade.

Jane Fletcher with the Florida Department of Education says exemptions include an option for students to enroll in a summer reading camp.

“They attend summer reading camp and their performance at the end of that summer reading camp can in fact move them to the next grade level,” Fletcher said.

Whether students can take summer reading or get another exemption is a “local decision” made by each school district, Fletcher says.

FDOE officials said they are not sure when parents will find out from their local school districts if their students will be held back.

More Results: 

82% of third graders scored a passing score of Level 2 or higher.

56% of third graders scored a Level 3 or higher, which is considered proficient.

The year before, 72% of third graders scored a Level 3 or higher.



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