- Associated Press - Friday, May 23, 2014

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - A little over half of third-grade students scored at passing levels on Florida’s standardized exam in math and reading in 2014, according to results released Friday.

Fifty-seven percent of third graders scored at a level 3 or higher on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test in 2014, the same as the previous year. Fifty-eight percent reached the passing score in math, also unchanged from 2013.

Those scores have been largely static over the last four years: Third-grade students had the same reading performance in 2011; in math, 56 percent reached a passing level in 2011, two points lower than in 2014.

Education Commissioner Pam Stewart, however, said she was not discouraged by the results.

“I really believe that it’s encouraging our students have maintained the gains previously made,” she said.

Florida third-grade students must score a level 2 or higher in reading on the FCAT in order to advance to the next grade. Nineteen percent scored a level 1 in 2014, though it was still unknown how many of those students would be held back.

This year marks the last administration of the FCAT. Students will take a new exam aligned with the Common Core standards, recently renamed the Florida Standards, next year. The new benchmarks were created by a coalition of state officials and education leaders and have been adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia. The standards have undergone some tweaks in Florida after hearings were held around the state, fielding more than 19,000 comments from teachers, parents and others.

The standards establish what a child should know to be prepared for college and the workforce. They are considered more rigorous and put an increased emphasis on critical thinking.

The FCAT results released Friday showed continuing disparities in performance by race and English language proficiency.

Seventy percent of white students reached a passing level 3 or higher on the reading exam, compared to 52 percent of Hispanic students and 39 percent of black students. Nineteen percent of students designated “English language learners” achieved a passing reading score.

On the FCAT writing exam, both eighth and 10th-grade students showed improvement, while fourth grade scores dropped slightly. Fifty-six percent of eighth grade students had a passing score on the exam, as did 64 percent of 10th-grade students. Fifty-three percent of fourth grade students scored at the passing level, down four points from 2013.

A passing score on the writing test is not required to graduate or advance to the next grade level.


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