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EDUCATION FCAT results released, scoring is questioned

Changes in FCAT scoring and unexpected lower grades in reading and writing led to an outcry from educators across the state last week. The Florida Department of Education (DOE) officials called an emergency meeting to address concerns. Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson explained, “Florida’s children do not know less than before. Rather, we’ve raised our standards and expectations. Today, we are asking more of our children and more of our teachers than we ever have. It’s clear in that we must do a better job of communicating student expectations to educators and parents so they can better prepare students to be successful.” Calhoun County fourth graders fell below state average in writing with only 69 percent scoring 3 or above (the scale is 1 to 6). There were no 5’s or 6’s this year among local fourth graders and only 10 percent at earned 4 or above. The state average was 81 percent scoring 3 or above. Eighth graders in Calhoun County performed above state average in writing with 81 percent earning a 3 or above and 37 percent over a 4. Tenth graders in Calhoun County were just above state average on the mean score in writing and had 83 percent scoring 3 or above (just under the state’s 84 percent), but exceeded the state with 43 percent scoring a 4 or above. In reading, 55 percent of Calhoun County 9th graders were above a 3, compared to 52 percent statewide. Tenth graders were also above state average in reading with 63 percent earning a level 3 or above, compared to 50 percent statewide. Here in Calhoun County, school officials are accustomed to extremely high scores on state testing. Average or below average results are not the norm. “No quicker had Calhoun County and other high performing school districts begun to celebrate the sweet smell of success on their 2011 school grades, then somebody comes along with a skunk to spoil the party,” said Superintendent Tommy McClellan. “The FCAT turns into a polecat with an unexplainable about face in plummeted school grades for 2012.” McClellan noted Senator Bill Montford is calling for a “start to- finish analysis of the action that led to a significant majority of Florida students not reaching the proficiency level on the FCAT writing session.” Stay tuned as more FCAT results are released in coming weeks.

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