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PRESS RELEASE

May 24, 2006

Russell Schweiss
(850) 488-5394 or
Cathy Schroeder
(850) 245-0413

Governor Bush and Commissioner Winn Announce FCAT Science Scores for Fifth, Eighth and Eleventh Grades
Student scores now reported by achievement levels

TALLAHASSEE — Governor Jeb Bush and Education Commissioner John L. Winn today announced the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) science scores for students in fifth, eighth and eleventh grades. This year, student science scores are reported by achievement levels for the first time. During the 2006-2007 school year, these achievement levels will be a component in determining school grades.

"Science teaches our students about the world around them, and we now have the tools to measure their performance in this important area," said Governor Bush. "We need to support and challenge our students in this critical subject so they will be ready to succeed in postsecondary education and the workforce."

In January, the State Board of Education approved achievement levels for science. To establish these achievement levels, the Department of Education collected input and heard recommendations from teachers, administrators and other expert groups. Scores from the FCAT science test are now reported according to the following achievement standards:

Grade Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Level 5
5 100-272 273-322 323-376 377-416 417-500
8 100-269 270-324 325-386 387-431 432-500
11 100-278 279-323 324-379 380-424 425-500

FCAT Science Scores

  • Fifth grade students had an average score of 299 this year, up from 285 in 2003. Thirty-five percent of students are achieving at or above grade level (Level 3 and above).
  • Eighth grade students had an average score of 289 this year, up from 287 in 2003. Thirty-two percent of students are achieving in science at or above grade level (Level 3 and above).
  • Eleventh grade students had an average score of 298 this year, up from 290 in 2003 when the test was given to tenth graders — a gain of 11 points. Thirty-five percent of students are achieving in science at or above grade level (Level 3 and above).

"Establishing achievement levels is a critical step toward measuring student learning," said Commissioner Winn. "These rigorous standards will help prepare students to compete globally in the field of science."

National Assessment of Educational Progress

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which also released its 2005 science results today, reports that select groups of Florida’s fourth graders are scoring higher than students nationally. The NAEP, which serves as the nation’s report card for educational progress, measures student achievement in various content areas for the nation, states and specific geographic regions of the country in fourth, eighth and twelfth grades.

Although the assessments are similar, the NAEP science scores are not precisely comparable to FCAT science scores. NAEP scores are reported on a 0 - 300 scale whereas FCAT scores are reported using a 100 - 500 scale. Additionally, the achievement level definitions are different for the two tests.

According to the results released today in Florida:

  • Fourth grade Hispanic students had an average score of 144 compared to Hispanic students nationally who earned an average score of 132.
  • Fourth grade Students with Disabilities had an average score of 139 compared to students with disabilities nationally who earned an average score of 133.
  • Fourth grade students with Limited English Proficiency had an average score of 126 compared to students with Limited English Proficiency nationally who scored 120.
  • Since 1996, eighth grade students in both Florida and the nation have maintained their science scores, with 27 percent scoring at or above proficiency nationally and 21 percent scoring at or above proficiency in Florida.
  • Eighth grade Hispanic students in Florida have continued to improve their scores since 1996. They also perform better than their national counterparts. This year, 14 percent of Hispanic students scored at or above proficiency — an improvement from eight percent in 1996 — compared to 10 percent of Hispanic students nationally.

NAEP biannually assesses reading and mathematics for fourth and eighth grades as required under No Child Left Behind. These assessments are reported for all of the states and territories and will be given again in early 2007, with results reported in the fall. For the NAEP science administration in 2005, Florida, as well as many other states, participated voluntarily. Other content areas assessed by NAEP include writing, civics, U.S. History, Economics, Arts, World History, geography, and foreign languages.

To view FCAT science results, visit http://fcat.fldoe.org. To view NAEP science results, visit http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/.