MIAMI (CBS4)- The results are in for the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Tests, and third graders across the state performed with similar results to last year.

The Department of Education released the results of the state’s 2011 FCAT 2.0 Grade 3 reading and mathematics scores Thursday.  Statewide third-grade reading and math results this year are unchanged from 2010.   The FCAT 2.0 was a new, and more difficult test.

The statewide figures show 72 percent of students passed the reading test and 78 percent passed the math test — the same as last year.

But Education Commissioner Eric Smith said Thursday that a new, more difficult version of the FCAT did produce results for students, schools and districts that differ from their 2010 scores.

Smith said the results were calculated on last year’s FCAT score scale because a new one will not be established until this fall.

“I am very proud of our students’ efforts and the dedicated work of our teachers on this year’s statewide test administration,” Smith said. “Today’s release of third grade reading and mathematics scores highlights a very important transition to more demanding tests. As a part of this transition, students took the new FCAT 2.0 assessments for the first time this year.”

Smith said the new assessments are based on Florida’s updated, more rigorous curriculum standards that were adopted by the State Board of Education several years ago.

The results were similar to last years, and those results were “expected since the method used to link the score scale of the older FCAT assessments to the new FCAT 2.0 assessments results in the same percentage of students statewide scoring at each achievement level in 2011, as they did in 2010,” Smith said.

Although the linking process does not change the statewide results for this year, it does provide different results for districts, schools and students.

In Broward, 71 percent of students achieved grades of 3, 4, or 5 in reading, which is at or above grade level.

Math results were also on the positive side in the county with students overall scoring 80 percent at or above grade level.

On the other hand, 17 percent of Broward third graders scored at the lowest level in reading, which is also consistent with last year’s figures. Only 8 percent scored at the lowest level in math.

Riverglades Elementary School students demonstrated proficiency rates exceeding 95 percent in both Reading and Mathematics. In addition, the Mathematics proficiency rate exceeded 95 percent at Manatee Bay, Heron Heights and Lakeside elementary schools and Parkway Middle (City Academy).

“We remain optimistic in the achievement of our third grade students as evidenced in this year’s scores and look forward to the fourth through 11th grade scores and our school grades,” said Broward County Public Schools Superintendent James F. Notter.

In order to be promoted to the fourth grade, third-graders had to pass the reading exam.

In Miami-Dade, 67 percent of students achieved grades of 3, 4, or 5 in reading.

Math results in the county showed students overall scored 78 percent at or above grade level.

In contrast, 21 percent of Miami-Dade third graders scored at the lowest level in reading. Nine percent scored at the lowest level in math.

Palm Beach County’s third-graders appeared to have more difficulty with the new FCAT reading and math exam than their peers across the state, according to the results.

Eighteen percent of the school district’s third-graders failed the reading section. That means 2,405 students are at risk of having to repeat the grade. The failure rate was 16 percent statewide.

Math results in the county showed students overall scored 75 percent at or above grade level.

Monreo County’s results show 81 percent of students scored at or above grade level in Math. Reading results show 78 percent scored at or above grade level.

Eleven percent failed in the reading portion of the reading test, while 7 percent failed the Math portion.

Smith said students were prepared for the transition.

“We have spent a great deal of time preparing, planning and executing this important transition and I must commend our teachers, school administrators and district leadership for their excellent work to make this process as seamless as possible for our students,’ Smith said. “With our new standards firmly in place, and the transition to measuring our performance against those standards now underway, we have made significant progress in our efforts to create better outcomes for our children.”

The department has already released the results of the 2011 writing exams. The remaining reading, math and science scores for fourth through 10th graders will be released in June.

Individual student reports will be delivered to districts no later than Friday, June 10th, for distribution to parents. The Department of Education encourages parents to contact their school or district for details on when these reports will be provided.

For state, district and specific school performance, visit the Florida Department of Education’s Web site.