Students Make Slight Gains on FCAT
Around the State
The Florida Department of Education released the last batch of FCAT results on Friday, showing Florida’s students making slight improvements in this year’s assessment, with more than half passing the test.
The results showed students statewide made a little improvement in the reading portion of the test, increasing 1 percentage point in grades 4, 5, 6, 8 and 10. Fourth- and fifth-graders had the highest pass rate of any other grade, at 61 percent.
The scores for grades 3, 7, and 9 remained unchanged from last year.
The percentage of third-graders who passed the math portion of the FCAT remained the same from last year, while the state’s eighth-graders saw a 2-point drop in the pass rate.
On a county level, Miami-Dade saw a slight increase in the pass rate of its third- through fifth-graders on the reading portion of the exam. Sixty percent of Miami-Dade’s students in grades 3 to 5 passed the FCAT reading exam, a 3 percent increase from last year.
Miami-Dade also made gains in the math portion of the exam, with 63 percent of its third- through fifth-graders passing that section of the test. This year’s pass rate is 2 percent higher than 2013’s.
Increases in pass rates were seen in other parts of the state, as well. Hillsborough County students in grades 3 to 5 made gains in reading and math, with increases of 2 percent in both sections of the test.
Other districts didn’t fare as well -- Duval County’s reading pass rate for third- through fifth-graders decreased 2 percent from last year, while its math pass rate for third- through fifth-graders increased 1 percent.
Hamilton County saw the largest drop in its reading pass rate, with only 41 percent of students in grades 3 to 5 passing the exam.
When it came to the pass rate for third- through fifth-graders on the FCAT’s math section, the University of Florida Lab School saw the biggest drop, with 8 percent fewer students passing this year. Jefferson County had the second largest decrease in the state, with only 34 percent of its students passing the math section of the test.
To Lane Wright, Florida press secretary for StudentsFirst, Friday’s results show promise for the future of Florida’s education.
"From a statewide perspective, it's good to see that Florida is holding its ground on student achievement over the past few years, and even making slight gains over last year,” he said.
Yet, despite the slight gains, it doesn’t mean the quest to improve student achievement is over.
"Still, when you have 40-to-45 percent of our students not earning a passing grade on the reading test, and roughly the same numbers in math, it shows we still have a lot of work to do to make sure every student who sets foot in our public schools is getting the help he or she needs to be successful,” said Wright.
The Foundation for Florida's Future also weighed in on the score release, hailing Friday's results as a sign that Florida's education system is on the right path.
"Florida students and teachers continue to demonstrate they are working hard and are meeting higher standards" said Patricia Levesque, executive director of the Foundation. "As a state, we set the bar higher for what students should know to better prepare them for success. That transition over the past few years has not been an easy one, but it's an important one, and our kids are achieving. We are on the right track and need to continue working to get all Florida students performing at grade level or higher."
Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart seemed encouraged by Friday's results.
"I applaud teachers and school leaders for their focus on increasing student academic performance," she said. "As we transition to new standards and assessments next year, I am confident students will continue to succeed."
This will be the last time Florida will see a release of FCAT scores. The test is being replaced by a new assessment developed by the American Institutes for Research.
The new assessment test will be more aligned to Florida’s new education standards and will be administered for the first time next year.