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PRESS RELEASE

May 17, 2006

Cathy Schroeder
(850) 245-0413

Commissioner Winn Announces Top 100 Schools for Improved FCAT Writing Scores

TALLAHASSEE — Commissioner John L. Winn today announced the top 100 elementary, middle and high schools with students making progress in writing on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT). These schools had the highest increase in the percent of students scoring 3.5 and above on the 2006 FCAT Writing+ over the previous year.

"Writing is a core skill that lays the foundation for students' continued success throughout their education," said Commissioner Winn. "I commend these schools for setting high standards and providing students the support they need to exceed expectations."

The Department of Education released three lists that identify the top 100 elementary schools, the top 100 middle schools and the top 100 high schools. According to the list, some schools may have experienced the same percentage of improvement and are thus tied for position. For example, on the Top 100 Middle Schools list, students at both the Technical Learning Center in Taylor County and Gaines Alternative at Hamlem School in St. Johns County made a 58 percent increase. These schools are both ranked No. 1.

Many districts had more than one school mentioned on each of the three lists. For the Top 100 Elementary Schools, the Palm Beach County School District has 14 schools listed; for the Top 100 Middle Schools, the Duval County School District has seven schools listed; and for the Top 100 High Schools, three school districts: Broward, Jackson and Osceola Counties each have five schools listed.

Statewide, the percent of students scoring 3.5 and above on the scale of 1 to 6, increased in 2006 for fourth and eighth grades and was only 1 percent less for 10th grade. The percentage of fourth graders scoring 3.5 and above increased from 74 percent last year to 76 percent in 2006; up from 34 percent scoring 3.5 or above in 1999. The percentage of eighth graders scoring 3.5 and above jumped from 76 percent last year to 83 percent in 2006; up from 51 percent who scored 3.5 or above in 1999. The percentage of 10th graders scoring 3.5 and above decreased slightly from 79 percent last year to 78 percent in 2006; still much higher than the 60 percent scoring 3.5 and above in 1999.

This year's assessment includes Writing+ (Writing Plus), a combination of both the writing essay and multiple choice questions. This essay portion remains the same while the multiple choice component of Writing+ includes questions designed to measure knowledge about four facets of writing skills — focus, organization, support and conventions.