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PRESS RELEASE

April 25, 2007

Tom Butler
(850) 245-0413

COMMISSIONER BLOMBERG ANNOUNCES 2007 FCAT WRITING SCORES

~ Increased number of students scored 3.5 or higher on the test’s essay section ~

TALLAHASSEE – Education Commissioner Jeanine Blomberg today announced results of the 2007 Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) Writing+ taken by students in grades 4, 8 and 10. These results reflect an increase in the percent of students who scored 3.5 (on a scale of one to six) or higher on the essay portion of the test at all grade levels.

“The ability to write proficiently plays an important role in the future successes of our children,” said Commissioner Blomberg. “The educators of this state deserve much of the credit for the long-term gains shown in our students’ writing skills. Their sustained focus on increasing academic achievement continues to pay dividends for Florida students.”

The FCAT Writing+ results for students in grades 4, 8 and 10 include the traditional essay scores and the newer Writing+ scale scores. An essay score of 3.5 is the standard used in the grading of schools.

  • 4th Grade – 78 percent of students scored 3.5 and above, an increase from 76 percent last year and up from 34 percent scoring 3.5 and above in 1999. The average essay score remained the same as last year’s at 3.9.
  • 8th Grade – 86 percent of students scored 3.5 and above, an increase from 83 percent last year and up from 51 percent scoring 3.5 and above in 1999. The average essay score increased from 4.0 in 2006 to 4.1.
  • 10th Grade – 79 percent of students scored 3.5 and above, a slight increase from 78 percent last year and up from 60 percent scoring 3.5 and above in 1999. The average essay score remained the same as last year’s at 3.9.

For the first time ever, FCAT Writing+ scores are being reported in terms of five achievement levels as adopted by the State Board of Education in January. The achievement levels are based on the total FCAT writing score, which combines multiple-choice questions and the essay.

  • 4th Grade – 60 percent of students scored at or above grade level (Level 3 and above) on writing skills.
  • 8th Grade – 45 percent of students scored at or above grade level (Level 3 and above) on writing skills.
  • 10th Grade – 49 percent of students scored at or above grade level (Level 3 and above) on writing skills.

Students also receive an FCAT Writing+ scale score, ranging from 100 to 500, which is a combination of the essay and the multiple-choice items. This score was reported for the first time in 2006. The 2007 statewide average scale scores increased in Grades 4 and 10 over the 2006 scores.

  • 4th Grade – the average scale score is 302, up six score points from 296 last year.
  • 8th Grade – the average scale score is 291, down four score points from 295 last year.
  • 10th Grade – the average scale score is 296, up one score point from 295 last year.

The class of 2010, or students who are in ninth grade this school year (2006-07), will be required to earn a passing score of 300 or higher on the FCAT Writing+ in order to graduate from high school. Although this requirement does not affect this year’s tenth graders, 49 percent of them met this passing standard.

Districts have received an electronic data file of student writing scores. School districts and schools will be able to access electronic copies of their reports today. Printed reports, including individual student reports, school reports, district and state reports, will be delivered to school districts next week.

Beginning this year, the FCAT Parent Network, a secure site that enables parents to view their child's FCAT scores online, will include FCAT Writing+ scores, which will be posted by 6:00 a.m. EDT on April 27, 2007. Parents may view their students’ scores via the FCAT Parent Network (www.fcatparentnetwork.com) using the secure login and password provided by their school.

The Florida Department of Education continues to take steps toward increasing the transparency of the FCAT. Hundreds of printed and online resources related to the FCAT have been available for several years, including annual releases of sample questions and a release of "half tests" in 2001. Since 2005, the Department of Education has annually released full-length FCAT reading and mathematics tests, which have been previously taken by students.

To view school, district and state FCAT reports, visit http://fcat.fldoe.org/.