Slightly over half of Fla. students pass FCAT

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Slightly over half of Florida students have passed the state’s standardized math and reading exams, according to results released Friday.

Fifty-eight percent of third through eighth-grade students passed the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) in reading, up one percent from the previous year, the Department of Education announced. Fifty-six percent of third through eighth-grade students passed the math test, the same as in 2013.

In science, fifty-four percent of fifth-grade students passed, up one percent from last year. Forty-nine percent of eighth-grade students passed the FCAT science test, a two point increase.

Education Commissioner Pamela Stewart said the changes, while incremental, were significant.

“I think when we think about it from the education standpoint, when you increase by a percentage point you’re moving in the right direction,” Stewart said.

This year marks the last administration of the FCAT. Students will take a new exam aligned with the Common Core standards next year. The new benchmarks have been adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia. They were developed by a coalition of state officials and education leaders and are designed to prepare students for college and the workforce.

In Florida, the standards underwent some tweaks after hearings were held around the state, fielding more than 19,000 comments from teachers, parents and others.

The test results released Friday showed continuing disparities in performance along the lines of race, ethnicity, disability and English language learner status.

Sixty-nine percent of white third through eighth-grade students performed at a passing level or higher on the reading exam, compared to 54 percent of Hispanic students and 38 percent of black students.

There were also notable differences in performance across the state’s districts, with Gilchrist County schools in rural, central Florida scoring the highest in reading. Sixty-seven percent of students in the district passed the reading exam.

Jefferson County schools in the Florida Panhandle were the lowest performer, with just 34 percent of its students passed the FCAT reading exam.

Asked her assessment of the overall scores, Stewart said that while the state had improved its performance in recent years there was still much work to be done.

“We will not be satisfied until we’ve reached the point where all of our students are able to perform on grade level,” she said.

Reprinted with permission from the Associated Press.