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Press Release

Friday, May 24, 2013

DOE Press Office
850-245-0413

Gov. Scott and FDOE Announce Florida Students Improve on FCAT 2.0 Writing, Maintain Progress on Third-Grade Reading and Mathematics

Tallahassee, Fla., May 24, 2013 - With significant gains in writing scores, Florida's teachers and students continue to show that higher expectations and support at home and in the classroom enable every child to succeed.

Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Department of Education today announced the results of the FCAT 2.0 Writing and third-grade Reading and Mathematics assessments. Overall, student performance continued its upward climb with more rigorous expectations in preparation for the Common Core State Standards.

Governor Scott said, "Over the past two years, Florida teachers and students have made incredible gains, including news that Florida jumped from 11th to 6th for the overall quality of its education system and Florida fourth graders are among the best in the world for reading.

"Today's report that student performance is improving lends further credence to why it was so important we provide teachers throughout Florida with a pay raise. Moreover, we're heartened to see writing scores improving as well as the achievement gap among students decreasing. That means that more and more Florida students are receiving a quality education, which provides more families opportunities to pursue the American Dream, right here in the Sunshine State."

"Our students, parents and teachers have worked very hard this year and I'm pleased to see more students achieving at higher levels," said Commissioner of Education Dr. Tony Bennett. "Our teachers do a fantastic job every day to prepare students for college and careers. We will celebrate our gains and use these results to continue to work every day to improve."

FCAT 2.0 Writing

Results of the FCAT 2.0 Writing assessment show that overall, students in all grade levels tested (grades 4, 8 and 10) improved their scores with 58 percent of students scoring at 3.5 and higher, up from 54 percent in 2012. Grade 4 students saw the biggest increase with a nine point improvement in the percentage of students scoring at 3.5 and above. Grade 8 and grade 10 students increased achievement by two percentage points respectively.

Twenty-five school districts made a 10 percentage point or greater improvement in the percent of fourth-grade students earning a 3.5 and higher on FCAT 2.0 Writing. The five school districts improving the most are Union (22 percentage point increase), Jefferson (20 percentage point increase), Hamilton (15 percentage point increase), the Florida Virtual School (15 percentage point increase), and Wakulla (14 percentage point increase). Improvement occurred in larger districts as well. Palm Beach, Pasco and Pinellas all saw a 12 percentage point increase, Miami-Dade and Orange had an 11 percentage point increase, and Broward saw a rise of 10 percentage points.

The five districts improving the most in Grade 8 reading are Jefferson (17 percentage point increase), Gulf (14 percentage point increase), Liberty (14 percentage point increase), Jackson (13 percentage point increase), and Lafayette (12 percentage point increase). In Grade 10, the five most improved districts are Hamilton (22 percentage point increase), the Florida Virtual School (11 percentage point increase), DeSoto (10 percentage point increase), Glades (10 percentage point increase), and Citrus (9 percentage point increase).

In 2012, the State Board of Education established 3.5 as the school grades standard for writing performance beginning in 2013; the standard last year was 3.0. The table below illustrates information on the current and previous standards.

FCAT 2.0 Writing Statewide Subgroup Comparison, 2012-2013

  2012 FCAT Writing; Percentage 3.0 or above 2012 FCAT Writing; Percentage 3.5 or above 2012 FCAT Writing; Percentage 4.0 or above 2013 FCAT 2.0 Writing; Percentage 3.0 or above 2013 FCAT 2.0 Writing; Percentage 3.5 or above 2013 FCAT 2.0 Writing; Percentage 4.0 or above
Grades 4, 8, and 10 81% 54% 33% 82% 58% 38%
Grade 4 81% 48% 27% 83% 57% 37%
Grade 8 77% 52% 33% 79% 54% 34%
Grade 10 84% 60% 38% 85% 62% 40%

Overall, African-American and Hispanic students reduced the achievement gap with their white student counterparts. The percentage of African-American and Hispanic students scoring 3.5 and higher increased by six and four points respectively. The percentage of English language learners and students with disabilities who scored 3.5 and higher also increased by four percentage points.

FCAT 2.0 Writing Statewide Subgroup Comparison, 2012-2013

Grades 4, 8, and 10 Score Point 3.0 and Above; 2012 Score Point 3.0 and Above; 2013 Score Point 3.5 and Above; 2012 Score Point 3.5 and Above; 2013 Score Point 4.0 and Above; 2012 Score Point 4.0 and Above; 2013
All Students 81% 82% 54% 58% 33% 38%
White 83% 84% 59% 62% 38% 42%
African-American 76% 79% 43% 49% 23% 28%
Hispanic 81% 83% 52% 56% 30% 36%
Students with Disabilities 55% 58% 27% 31% 13% 16%
English Language Learners 57% 59% 27% 31% 12% 15%

Results for FCAT 2.0 Writing are reported on a scale of 1.0 (lowest) to 6.0 (highest). Two trained scorers independently score each student response; the score reported is the average of both scores. There is no passing score for FCAT 2.0 Writing. The percentage of students scoring 3.5 and above will be used for the writing component in calculating the 2013 school grades. Last year, the percentage of students scoring 3.0 and higher was used.

In 2013, students had 60 minutes to respond to the writing prompt, an increase of 15 minutes. Based on recommendations from Florida educators, the time was increased to allow students more time to satisfy higher scoring requirements. Scoring includes more attention to the correct use of English conventions such as grammar and punctuation, and the quality of details that support the written response.

Since 2011, the Buros Center for Testing at the University of Nebraska has conducted a comprehensive review of the FCAT Writing hand-scoring process. This includes a review of the hand-scoring specifications, a site visit for monitoring the scanning and preparation process for scoring, the training of scoring candidates, and actual hand-scoring activities. The 2011 and 2012 reports are available at http://fcat.fldoe.org/fcatpub5.asp. The 2013 report will be available later this summer.

Third-Grade FCAT 2.0 Reading and Mathematics

Florida third-grade students improved their performance on FCAT 2.0 Reading and maintained their progress in mathematics. Overall, statewide student achievement increased one percentage point in reading, up to 57 percent scoring 3 and above, while grade 3 mathematics remained at 58 percent scoring at 3 and above.

FCAT 2.0 Third Grade Reading Statewide Comparison, 2012-2013

Grade Year Number of Students FCAT 2.0 Mean Developmental Scale Score Percentage of Students By Achievement Level; 1 Percentage of Students By Achievement Level; 2 Percentage of Students By Achievement Level; 3 Percentage of Students By Achievement Level; 4 Percentage of Students By Achievement Level; 5 Achievement Level 3 and Above*
3 2012 203,390 201 18 26 23 22 11 56
2013 205,984 201 18 25 23 23 11 57
*Percentages may not add to 100 due to rounding.

FCAT 2.0 Third Grade Mathematics Statewide Comparison, 2012-2013

Grade Year Number of Students FCAT 2.0 Mean Developmental Scale Score Percentage of Students By Achievement Level; 1 Percentage of Students By Achievement Level; 2 Percentage of Students By Achievement Level; 3 Percentage of Students By Achievement Level; 4 Percentage of Students By Achievement Level; 5 Achievement Level 3 and Above*
3 2012 203,207 202 18 24 30 18 10 58
2013 205,717 201 18 24 31 17 10 58
*Percentages may not add to 100 due to rounding.

The school districts making the most improvement in the percent of third-grade students earning a 3 or higher in reading are Lafayette (13 percentage point increase), Taylor (11 percentage point increase), FAMU Lab School (11 percentage point increase), Dixie (9 percentage point increase), and Hamilton (9 percentage point increase).

The districts making the most improvements in the percent of third-grade students earning a 3 or higher in mathematics are Dixie (17 percentage point increase), FAMU Lab School (13 percentage point increase), Jefferson (12 percentage point increase), Madison (12 percentage point increase), Levy (9 percentage point increase), and FAU Lab School (9 percentage point increase).

Third-grade students who score Level 1 on FCAT 2.0 Reading may be retained. However, the test result is not the only factor for determining a child's promotion to grade 4. Students may be eligible for a good cause exemption that includes successfully completing a summer reading camp, a portfolio of student work that demonstrates mastery of reading skills, and specific exemptions for students with disabilities and student with limited English proficiency.

Information for parents on building their child's reading skills can be found at http://www.justreadflorida.com/parents.asp.

More information about summer reading camps can be found at http://www.justreadflorida.com/camps/.

Complete information about good cause exemptions can be found in Section 1008.25(6)(b), Florida Statutes.

For more information about FCAT 2.0 Writing and FCAT 2.0 Reading and Mathematics Grade 3 results, visit http://fcat.fldoe.org/mediapacket/2013/default.asp and http://fcat.fldoe.org/resultsFCAT2/default.asp