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Press Release

Thursday, May 24, 2012

DOE Press Office
(850) 245-0413

Florida's Third Grade FCAT 2.0 Results Show Promise

- Student reading and math scores in line with estimates -

Tallahassee - When the State Board of Education set higher achievement levels for FCAT 2.0 Reading and Mathematics in December, they were acting on recommendations from Florida's educators, parents and the community and data showing the impact of the new achievement levels on students and schools. Today's results for Florida's third graders proved those estimates to be almost on target for both reading and math. While comparing actual year over year scores is difficult because of differences in the way this year's and last year's results are reported, impact data comparisons show third graders did slightly higher than estimated in math and slightly lower than estimated in reading.

"The future success of third grade students depends on mastering essential reading skills," said Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson. "Today's results help us determine how and where we should focus our resources so students who are struggling with reading get the extra help they need to succeed. Whether we're preparing a child for college, career training or the workplace, they must have the fundamentals of reading to be successful."

Florida's third grade assessments are especially important because in 2002 the state adopted a third grade progression policy requiring students to have the necessary reading skills in order to move to the next grade. Children who struggle with reading in third grade and get extra help before fourth grade are less likely to drop out of school and are more successful as they move through school according to recent studies. Florida's approach has been so successful that other states, including Colorado, Iowa, Ohio and North Carolina, are considering legislation modeled after Florida.

Students in third grade must reach Achievement Level 2 or higher on FCAT 2.0 Reading to be promoted to fourth grade. Scoring at Achievement Level I on reading, however, does not mean automatic retention. There are other options for teachers and principals that allow promotion, such as considering a portfolio of a student's work or using an approved alternative standardized assessment.

Since 2006, more than 90 percent of third grade students have been promoted each year. In 2011, for example, 16 percent of third grade students scored at Achievement Level 1 in reading, but only seven percent were actually retained.

Results released today include 2012 FCAT 2.0 Reading and Mathematics results for third grade students.

Reading
  • 56 percent of third grade students are reading at or above Level 3.
  • The percentage of third grade students reading at or above Level 3 in 2011 was 57 percent based on applying the higher achievement levels to last year's results.
  • The percentage of third grade students scoring Level 1 is 18 percent.
  • The percentage of third grade students scoring at Level 1 in 2011 was also 18 percent based on applying the higher achievement levels to last year's results.
Mathematics
  • 58 percent of third grade students scored at or above Level 3 in Mathematics.
  • The percentage of third grade students achieving at or above Level 3 in 2011 was 56 percent applying the higher achievement levels to last year's results.
  • The percentage of third grade students scoring Level 1 is 18 percent.
  • The percentage of third grade students scoring at Level 1 in 2011 was 19 percent applying the higher achievement levels to last year's results.

More information about statewide assessment results and media packets are available at http://fcat.fldoe.org/mediapacket/2012/default.asp.

The Manhattan Institute study on Florida's policy showing that providing early remedial instruction helps students be more successful academically, The Benefits of Florida's Test-Based Promotion System, Manhattan Institute, April 2012, is available at http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/cr_68.htm.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation study showing the link between students who struggle in reading and dropout rates, Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters, is available at http://www.aecf.org/~/media/Pubs/Initiatives/KIDS%20COUNT/123/2010KCSpecReport/Special%20Report%20Executive%20Summary.pdf (PDF).