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Lowered Standards Don’t Hide Poor FCAT Scores

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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – Results from the FCAT reading and writing parts of the test paint a very bad picture for students moving through the Florida school system.

Statewide, 52 percent of high school freshmen scored at level 3 or above, which is considered passing. Breaking that down further, 24 percent collected a 3, 19 percent collected a 4, and just 5 percent reached the top level of reading achievement.

Locally, the numbers were not much better.

In Broward County, just 51 percent of freshmen scored at level 3 or above, while 48 percent scored below passing level. Miami-Dade County saw less than half of all freshman score at achievement level 3 or above on the FCAT’s reading portion.

Even Monroe County was only able to pass 56 percent of its freshmen students at level 3 or above in the 2012 FCAT reading test.

By the time students got to 10th grade, the numbers dropped even further. Statewide, just 50 percent scored at level 3 of above among high school sophomores.

Broward County had less than half of its 10th grade students score at level 3 or above on the FCAT’s reading test. Miami-Dade saw just 46 percent of its students pass the FCAT’s reading test. Monroe County saw an increase in scores, jumping to 59 percent passing at level 3 or above.

The writing portion of the test saw the numbers drop even further under the standards that were in place until earlier this week. State officials lowered the standards when they realized not many students in the state could meet increased expectations.

Using the old system of scoring a 4.0 as passing, just 38 percent of 10th grade students statewide passed the 2012 FCAT. In Broward County, 42 percent of sophomores passed at a 4.0 or above. Miami-Dade’s passing rate would have been 36 and Monroe County’s would have been 37 percent.

For eighth graders, 33 percent passed the FCAT’s writing test statewide using the old numbers. Broward saw just 41 percent pass, while Dade saw just over a quarter pass the writing test. Monroe County saw 31 percent pass at level 4.0 or above.

Fourth graders fared even worse. Just 27 percent of students in the state passed at level 4.0 or above on the writing portion of the FCAT. In Broward, 32 percent of students in fourth grade passed at level 4. Twenty-six percent of Miami-Dade fourth graders passed the writing test; and just 21 percent passed in Monroe County.

Once the numbers were adjusted, or as critics said, cooked, to fit lowered standards; the numbers made Florida schools look downright wonderful.

Using 3.0 as a passing grade, which the state school board changed it to this week; Broward County saw 87 percent of sophomores pass. Miami-Dade County’s passing rate jumps to 83 percent, which matches Monroe County’s rate.

At level 3 or above for eighth graders, 78 percent passed the FCAT writing test. Broward now has 82 percent passing, while Miami-Dade has 75 percent passing at level 3 or above. Seventy-seven percent of eighth graders passed the writing portion of the test using 3.0 as a passing grade.

Finally, when it came to fourth graders using 3.0 as passing, 81 percent passed statewide. Broward County now has 84 percent of fourth graders passing and Miami-Dade now has 81 percent passing at level 3 or above. Monroe County scores jump to 80 percent once the passing scored was lowered to 3.0.

“We are asking more from our students and teachers than we ever have, and I am proud of their hard work,” said Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson. “Florida’s higher standards help ensure students are learning what they are expected to know so that they are prepared for college, career, and life. As Florida transitions to higher standards and higher expectations, we can expect our assessment results to reflect those changes.”

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