First Round of FCAT scores are out, Manatee sees gains

Bradenton, Florida -- The first round of FCAT scores are out, in this the last year for the controversial test.

The state released scores for third graders in reading and math, plus the writing test taken by 4th, 8th and 10th graders.

"Close your eyes think of yourself on FCAT writing day," says Ashley Symonds says to her students at Samoset Elementary. Her 4th graders treated test day for the FCAT like a Big Game Day.

Symonds says,"These kids bought into it, they were excited for writing everyday, eager to show what they learned."

Symonds says teachers received extra training and support and kids received more one-on-one help. Some students attributed monthly progress as a big help to their writing.

Manatee County among top in state for FCAT improvement

"Make my writing more interesting," says 4th grader Johnny Lopez.

The extra work paid off. Symonds' students improved 45 percentage points over last year's scores, from 22% of students passing last year to 67% passing this year.

"For writing you need pen and paper, is all you need and the want to do well that's what they had" says Symonds.

Historically, Manatee students have scored below the state average on the FCAT, but for the first time this year students scored higher than the state average in writing. The district also showed gains in all 5 assessment area.

"Yes we know we are below the state average, have been for years, but we're closing that gap, exceed that gap as we move forward in our academic years" says Rick Mills, Superintendent of Manatee County Schools. "This is a big boost for us, a big win. I'm proud of our teachers, students and staff."

The district's improvement on the FCAT comes during a time when it's plagued with financial problems. Problems the district still faces next year, but problems teachers at Samoset say have been kept out of the classroom.

Symonds says "It's not the money that makes good student academic success. It's students, parents and teachers, not how much money you throw at it."

Here are a few highlights:

  • Hillsborough's 4th graders posted the highest writing scores in the state this year.
  • Pinellas did not do as well in writing with 4th graders dropping 9% and 10th graders scores dropped 6%
  • Pasco students' writing scores also fell but reading and math scores remained the same for third graders
  • Sarasota students scored higher than their peers statewide on average in writing and third grade reading and math.
  • And Manatee County students for the first time scored above the state average in writing plus made gains in all 5 assessment areas.

The state has replaced the FCAT with end-of-course exams for middle and high school students. The new Florida Standards mirror the nation's Common Core Standards these are the benchmarks for students to meet. The state is working on a new assessment test to replace FCAT at the elementary level. A sample test will come out in June.

For more information on third grade reading requirements, visit Read to Learn.

The 2014 FCAT 2.0 Writing and third grade FCAT 2.0 Reading and Mathematics results are available at 2014 Statewide Assessment Scores.

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