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PRESS RELEASE

May 1, 2006

Russell Schweiss
(850) 488-5394
Jennifer Fennell
(850) 245-0413

Governor Bush and Commissioner Winn Announce FCAT Results for 3rd and 12th Grades
Record number of third graders reading at or above grade level

TALLAHASSEE — Governor Jeb Bush and Education Commissioner John L. Winn today announced that Florida's rising student achievement continues with a record number of third graders reading at or above grade level. Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) results show three-fourths of all Florida third grade students are reading at or above grade level — the largest number in state history.

"What an outstanding year of progress for our 3rd grade students and teachers. They deserve five gold stars," said Governor Bush. "All students, especially minorities, have broken records on the state FCAT and on our national norm-referenced test, the Stanford 10."

Third Grade Reading and Mathematics Gains

Social promotion for third grade was eliminated in 2001 as a necessary intervention step to ensure students are able to meet the more rigorous standards of later grades. Since eliminating social promotion, students are improving in both reading and mathematics.

  • Overall, the percentage of third graders reading at or above grade level rose 8 percent from last year — more than double any previous single year gain.
  • 75 percent of third graders are reading at or above grade level (Level 3 and higher), up from 57 percent in 2001.
  • 73 percent of students repeating third grade improved their achievement level, up from 62 percent in 2005.
  • 14 percent of third graders scored in the lowest level (Level 1) in reading, down by more than half from 29 percent in 2001.
  • 72 percent of third graders are demonstrating mathematics skills at or above grade level (Level 3 and higher), compared to 52 percent in 2001.
  • 12 percent of third graders scored in the lowest level (Level 1) in mathematics, down from 24 percent in 2001.

"These results mean that we have approximately 46,000 more third graders reading at or above grade level and 48,000 more students achieving in mathematics at or above grade level this year than there were in 2001," said Commissioner Winn.

Each year, a portion of the FCAT includes a nationally published test, known as the norm referenced test (NRT), which is used to measure how Florida students are performing compared to students nationally. The Stanford 10, is the nationally norm-referenced test by Florida and serves as an external validation of learning measured by the FCAT. This year, the reading national percentile rank increased from the 50th percentile to the 61st. This means that, on average, third graders scored better than 61 percent of the national comparison sample. In mathematics, the national percentile rank increased from the 62nd percentile to the 67th.

"These results validate the achievement gains we have seen on our state test," added Commissioner Winn.

Closing the Achievement Gap

Florida continues to close the achievement gap. African-American and Hispanic students again this year made progress, continuing their gains in both reading and math.

  • The percent of African-American third graders reading on grade level has nearly doubled since 2001. Currently, 61 percent of African-American third graders are reading at or above grade level, up from 37 percent in 2001.
  • Hispanic students made similar increases with 70 percent reading at or above grade level, up from 46 percent in 2001.
  • More than half, 54 percent, of African-American third graders are demonstrating mathematics skills at or above grade level, up from 29 percent in 2001.
  • More than two-thirds, 68 percent, of Hispanic third graders are demonstrating mathematics skills at or above grade level, up from 44 percent in 2001.

"These results show that our elementary students, especially minority students, are showing tremendous gains. However, that success is not always mirrored at the high school level," said K-12 Public Schools Chancellor Cheri Pierson Yecke. "By implementing reforms proposed this year that increase the rigor and relevance of middle and high schools, we will carry the momentum of success achieved at the elementary school level through to high school graduation and postsecondary education."

A++ Plan for Education

In February of this year, Governor Bush announced recommendations for new middle and high school reform measures. The new policies provide students a more rigorous and relevant high school education, better preparing them for postsecondary education and the workforce. The proposals comprise Governor Bush's A++ Plan for Education and support many of the recommendations made by the Florida State Board of Education's High School Reform Task Force.

FCAT Parent Network

For the first time ever, parents will be able to view their child's FCAT reading and mathematics scores on the Internet by logging on to the FCAT Parent Network at www.fcatparentnetwork.com. This secure site features detailed information on the meaning of the scores and provides resources to improve student performance in the future. Parents will receive a letter from their child's school with the appropriate login and password information. Scores will be posted to the website on Wednesday, May 3, 2006.

Promotion and Graduation

The FCAT is not the sole factor for determining a child's promotion to fourth grade. Parents of third graders in need of additional remediation may learn more at www.justreadflorida.com. The options available to help third graders achieve their goals include:

  • Summer Reading Camps — Reading camps consist of six to eight weeks of intensive, remedial reading instruction.
  • Reading Mentors — Mentors work in coordination with the summer reading camps to give participating students more opportunities to improve their reading ability.
  • Families Building Better Readers Workshops — The workshops provide parents simple ways to improve their child's literacy. The sessions also highlight strategies and methods to help their children through the remedial process.

In addition, www.FACTS.org, Florida's one-stop student advising system designed by the Department of Education will help high school students understand their options during and after high school. Students can get all their information in one place, including information on admission to a four-year college, a two-year degree program at a community college, attending a vocational or technical center, registering for military service or entering the workforce. FACTS.org provides access to complete transcripts and academic counseling online at no cost to students. Options to help students achieve their goals include:

  • FCAT Remediation — Schools offer many opportunities for students to participate in intensive remediation programs to help them pass the FCAT, including before and after school programs, summer school, tutoring, intensive reading or mathematics classes and computer assisted instruction. Many students take advantage of this opportunity and retake the FCAT in June.
  • Common Placement Test (CPT) — Eligible Certificate of Completion — Students who meet all requirements for a standard high school diploma except earning passing scores on the 10th grade FCAT are eligible to receive the CPT-Eligible Certificate of Completion. Students who choose this option may enroll directly in one of Florida's 28 community colleges.
  • General Educational Development Credential (GED) Preparation/Exit Option — Students who did not earn passing scores on the 10th grade FCAT may choose to participate in an adult education program and prepare to take the GED. Students who pass the GED will earn the State of Florida high school diploma.
  • Technical/Vocational Training — Students will also be counseled about high demand occupational training programs in which they can enroll while pursing their high school diploma.
  • Community College Acceptance — Once students earn their GED, CPT-Eligible Certificate of Completion or high school diploma, they are eligible to enroll at a Florida public community college.

Providing a quality education for each and every student in Florida is Governor Bush's priority and the state's most important mission. Florida's investment in the A+ Plan for Education continues to achieve results. The accountability in Florida's A+ Plan school grading system ensures the state measures the progress of every student in every school each year. Today, more of Florida's students than ever are reading on their own, taking college entrance exams, graduating from high school and earning college degrees.

To view school and district FCAT scores for third and twelfth grade reading and mathematics visit http://fcat.fldoe.org/.