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DOE Office of Communications Press Release

For Immediate Release:  May 15, 2002
Contact: JoAnn Carrin or Adam Shores
(850) 488-9968

Crist, Horne Unveil 2002 FCAT Scores
FCAT Scores Continue To Rise;
Minority Students Show Most Improvement

TALLAHASSEE -- Citing continuing student achievement and higher performance, Education Commissioner Charlie Crist and Education Secretary Jim Horne today unveiled results of the 2002 Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT). The test was administered to approximately 1.5 million students, up four percent over last year.

"Once again, we have good news for our students, parents and teachers. Test scores show that our students are continuing to learn more. Most impressive are the results of minority students which show the strongest improvement," said Crist. "This is due in great part to the efforts of our hardworking public school teachers and the commitment they continue to show to all of our precious students."

"Any way you look at these results, the news is good," said Horne. "We hope to see even more dramatic improvement when the governor's reading initiatives are in full swing."

"With this baseline of data, we are now prepared to implement annual learning gains as a method of measuring what our students are learning from year-to-year in grades 3 through 10," said Crist. "We have been working toward this way of measuring achievement since the Bush/Brogan A-Plus plan was first designed, and now we are there. Florida is exceeding national requirements by testing these grades and not just grades 3 through 8 as the new No Child Left Behind federal law requires."

Summary of 2002 Results

  • Student reading and math scores improved over last year. Student reading scores improved in elementary grades. Math scores showed the most gain, with 6 out of 8 grades showing an increase. Progress in reading still lags behind mathematics, demonstrating the need to make reading a top priority.

  • Elementary student reading and math scores improved the most. The 2002 class of 3rd, 4th and 5th graders all demonstrated improvement in reading in math, with the largest improvement being made in 3rd grade math (11 points).

  • Education reforms are working, especially for minority students. African-American and Hispanic students showed stronger improvement in reading and math than non-minority students did. This demonstrates progress in learning among those students who need the most assistance, a major focus of the governor's reform initiatives.

  • All students are accounted for in today's results. The 2002 data include all students tested, including Exceptional Student Education (ESE) and Limited English Proficient (LEP) students. The Department of Education required for the first time this year an answer sheet for every student enrolled in public school in grades 3 through 10. The purpose of this requirement is to ensure all students are accounted for and that as many students as possible take the test and receive scores.

Background

FCAT reading and mathematics results for grades 3 through 10 are reported as scale scores ranging from 100 to 500 at each grade. These scores are divided into 5 achievement levels with Level 5 being the highest. The percentage of students scoring in each achievement level, along with state and district mean scores, are reported to districts and schools. FCAT writing is administered to students in the 4th, 8th and 10th grades and is scored on a 0- to 6-point scale.

This year, for the second time, all students in grades 3 through 10 took both the reading and math portions of the FCAT. Committees composed of educators, parents, citizens and representatives of the business community developed recommended achievement levels. The State Board of Education adopted final achievement levels in December 2001.

This year's administration of the FCAT also takes into account the newly established passing score requirements for 10th-graders as determined by the State Board of Education. In order to graduate from high school 10th grade students must earn 300 or above on the SSS reading and math portions of the FCAT.

In terms of the scoring process of the exam, the Department contracted with NCS Pearson. They met all necessary requirements of that agreement.

"We greatly appreciate the efforts of NCS," said Crist. "They have done a high-quality job and provided FCAT results to us in an efficient and expedient manner.

Future

School districts will receive district and school averages today and individual student results later this month. Please visit http://www.myfloridaeducation.com for state, district and school results for 1999 through 2002. Additionally, please see the FCAT Briefing Book and Understanding FCAT Reports 2002 for more details on the history of FCAT and the testing process.

Additional information regarding learning gains and school grading will be released in the near future, and a timeline of these activities is attached for your information. Charts and graphs comparing statewide FCAT reading, writing, and math scores from 2001 and 2002 are attached to this release.