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Florida Releases Third Grade FCAT Scores

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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – The 2012 FCAT scores are out for Florida third-graders in reading and math, and thanks to revised exams and a tougher scoring system, the scores are predictably low.

Just over half of third-graders in Miami-Dade and Broward passed the FCAT 2.0 reading exam scoring just slightly above the rest of the state.

In Miami-Dade, 53-percent of students passed the reading exam at or above level 3 on a one-to-five scale. In math, 60-percent of Miami-Dade students earned a passing score, compared to 58 percent statewide.

“Although we are rightfully proud of the performance of our students and teachers, it is anticipated that despite these outcomes, school performance grades may suffer because of the increased standards and the inclusion of English language learners in this year’s formula,” said Miami-Dade Superintendent of Schools Alberto M. Carvalho.

Miami-Dade serves approximately 70,000 ELL students district-wide, or nearly three times the numbers served by other large districts in the State. Third grade ELL students who have received services for two years are held to the State’s mandatory retention requirement set for native English speakers despite research studies that show longer periods of time are required for full academic fluency to be attained.

In Broward, 56 percent of third-grade students passed the reading and 59-percent passed the math.

The closely watched scores are critical for students, teachers and schools. Third-graders who fail the reading exam can be held back. For schools, the scores influence the state-issued letter grades, and teacher evaluations are tied to student scores, as well.

Florida’s Commissioner of Education issued a warning earlier this year, saying that student scores and school performance grades would be lower because of increased standards.

This is the first time students took the revamped FCAT 2.0 with the tougher grading system.

Last year, students took the FCAT 2.0 for the first time, but scores were based on a previous grading system. As a result, 72-percent passed the reading test and 78-percent passed the math exam last year.

With the new tougher grading scale, statewide results show that 56-percent passed reading and 58-percent passed the math exam at or above level three on a one-to-five scale.

Third graders, though, need only score at level two or above on the reading exam to be promoted. Only 18 percent, or nearly 36,500 students, didn’t make it.

“The future success of third grade students depends on mastering essential reading skills,” said Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson. “Today’s results help us determine how and where we should focus our resources so students who are struggling with reading get the extra help they need to succeed. Whether we’re preparing a child for college, career training or the workplace, they must have the fundamentals of reading to be successful.”

This marks the first time that first-year English language learners and students with disabilities will be held to the same standard as other students and have their scores included in school performance grades, which are expected to be lower.

School performance grades are expected to be released at the end of July.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed material for this report.)

 

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