The 100 Florida schools earning the lowest scores on the FCAT reading test are required to add an extra hour of instruction time. A new review from the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability has found the extra hour has helped students at most of those schools improve their reading scores.
Lawmakers required the extra hour of instruction for three school years, beginning in 2012-2013.
The OPPAGA review looked at 96 schools (1 closed prior to the 2012-2013 school year, while three others closed after 2012-2013 school year). The review asked three questions:
Did the schools move off the low-performing list?
Do test results show student reading improving?
Are students as schools with the required extra hour of instruction improving more than peers at schools which don’t have the extra hour?
The report found the answer to the first two questions was yes, and more limited success on the third question.
About two-thirds of the schools ranked in the bottom 100 for reading in 2012-2013 moved off the list the next year.
Nearly three-quarters of schools with the required additional instruction had a higher percentage of students reading at or above grade level the next year. The largest portion, 35 schools, saw scores increase between 5 and 10 percentage points.
But only 20 schools requiring the extra hour performed better than similar schools without the extra hour of instruction. Thirteen schools had lower performance than peer schools.
Thirty schools continued the extra hour of instruction the next year, even though it was no longer required. Most principals surveyed said they thought one year was not a long enough period to put the program in place and see student performance improve significantly.
The report recommends notifying the 100 schools earlier.