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Press Release

Thursday, April 30, 2009

DOE Press Office
(850) 245-0413

Department of Education Announces 2009 FCAT Writing Results
~ Results show increasing numbers of students writing at or above grade level ~

TALLAHASSEE – A greater percentage of students are writing at or above grade level than ever before according to the 2009 Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) Writing results released today. The results indicate that average essay scores and the percentage of students scoring 3.5 or higher increased in grades 4 and 8. A score of 3.5 is considered to be on grade level and is the current standard used in the grading of schools.

“The need for solid writing skills demonstrates itself throughout our lives and is absolutely essential for the prosperity of our children,” said Education Commissioner Dr. Eric J. Smith. “I commend our teachers for their great work in making writing a priority and look forward to continued improvements in years to come.”

Depending on the grade level, students are randomly assigned one of two styles of writing prompts and asked to write an essay response to that prompt. This year’s results show that the average essay score increased to 4.0 in grade 4, 4.3 in grade 8, and decreased slightly to 3.8 in grade 10, as compared to last year. Additionally, the percent of students scoring 3.5 or above on the essay increased to 85 percent for grade 4, 90 percent in grade 8 and declined slightly to 77 percent for grade 10 as compared to 2008’s results.

This year’s results continue to mirror Florida’s strong performance on the 2007 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Writing assessment, which ranked the Sunshine State ninth in the nation for the percentage of students scoring at or above Proficient; two places higher than in 2002 and 16 places higher than in 1998. A score of at or above Proficient on NAEP is comparable to a score of 4.5 to 5.5 on the essay portion of the FCAT Writing assessment. Selected Florida students in fourth and eighth grade will participate in the next NAEP Writing administration in 2011.

"Writing is thinking; it will always have a place in our curriculum and assessment,” said Florida Teacher of the Year Jean Lamar. “Through it, we give our students the opportunity to express their thoughts, to imagine, and to create. Today’s FCAT Writing results are just one way to celebrate our students’ growth in this ever critical 21st century skill."

Individual student score reports will be available to parents at each school district after May 7, 2009. Districts and schools can use their secure login and password provided by the Department to access electronic copies of their reports today.

To view the 2009 FCAT Writing fact sheet, visit http://fcat.fldoe.org/mediapacket/2009/pdf/2009FCATWritingFactSheet.pdf. To view school, district and state FCAT reports, visit http://fcat.fldoe.org/fwinfopg.asp.