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Education officials warn lower FCAT reading scores ahead | News

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Education officials warn lower FCAT reading scores ahead
News, Schools


Tampa, Florida - State Education officials release more FCAT 2.0 scores Friday. After the state lowered the passing score in writing this week from a 4.0 to a 3.0, the number of students passing writing jumped from a third to more than 80% as expected.

The news isn't as good for high school students. Algebra 1 test scores for 9th and 10th graders show 44% passing and they did not do much better in reading.

State results on the FCAT 2.0 reading show 52% of 9th graders passed and 50% of 10th graders passed.

Tenth graders did worst this year compared to last year with 10% more of them failing the FCAT reading. The states are high for this group, 10th graders need to pass both reading and math to graduate.

Click here to see more FCAT scores

High school students know it now takes more work to pass the FCAT and some are okay with it.

15-year-old Travis Forehand, a 9th grader at Robinson High School, says, "I know I had to work harder, more prep work, write more, details, not slack off, do the best I can to get a better grade."

What bothers some students is that half of their 10th grade classmates state wide failed the FCAT in the reading portion.

"We're falling behind China in academics and literacy rate, not good kids need to be smarter, step up their game," says 15-year-old Shelton Carbalo, a 10th grader at Robinson High School.

State education officials say the goal behind toughening FCAT standards is to make Florida students more competitive on a global level and college ready. Nationwide, schools will be required to meet Common Core standards where all students are learning the same curriculum.

Commissioner Robinson says Florida is one of 15 states that are closely aligned with these new standards.

Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson tells reporters in a conference call Friday, "We have to quantify not for the purpose of punishment but purpose of making progress and where to invest resources for children. Resources matter, evaluations matter, numbers matter, FCAT matters that's why we will continue to use this to move forward to keep Florida strong."

But the transitional period will prove to be difficult. State education officials say more elementary students are expected to fail FCAT reading this year when the scores are released next week. Robinson says 3rd graders will be hit hard and they need to pass the test to be promoted to the next grade.

"This transition period will be a rocky one," says Steve Hegarty, spokesperson for the Hillsborough School District. "This does not mean your student is not ready or performing at a high level as they were the year before, it means the state raised the bar, the state raised the standards we're expecting more from your student."

The DOE says school officials and parents should brace themselves for fewer "A" schools and more "D" and "F" schools when the grades come out next month. Commissioner Robinson says one calculation estimates 108 more "F" schools this year.

Commissioner Robinson says on Monday the DOE will launch an information campaign for parents and students. There will be a toll free call center, a website on the FCAT and letters will go out to parents with their child's scores and resources to help them.

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