Putting Education Reform To The Test

Bennett Ready To ‘Drill Into The Data’ To Improve FCAT Reading Scores

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Students get one more year of the FCAT, then they begin taking Common Core assessments.

Education Commissioner Tony Bennett is talking about today’s Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) results.

The Florida Department of Education (DOE) released results from 3rd grade Reading and Mathematics assessments as well as FCAT 2.0 Writing for grades 4, 8 and 10.

“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.

Tidbits from DOE:

  • Results of the FCAT 2.0 Writing assessment show that overall, students in all grade levels tested (grades 4, 8 and 10) improved their scores with 58 percent of students scoring at 3.5 and higher, up from 54 percent in 2012.
  • Twenty-five school districts made a 10 percentage point or greater improvement in the percent of 4th grade students earning a 3.5 and higher on FCAT 2.0 Writing.
  • Overall in writing, African-American and Hispanic students reduced the achievement gap with their white student counterparts. The percentage of African-American and Hispanic students scoring 3.5 and higher increased by six and four points respectively.
  • Students had 60 minutes to respond to the writing prompt, an increase of 15 minutes over last year. The time was increased to allow students more time to satisfy higher scoring requirements.

DOE said districts will have hard copies of student writing scores on May 30th. No date has been announced for release of the other scores.


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