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Flagler Schools’ FCAT Reading Scores Disappoint, Math Scores a Plus

| June 29, 2010

It could have been better. (FlaglerLive)

The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test scores were finally released on Tuesday for districts and individual schools across Florida. Flagler County’s results were not quite worth the wait.

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Every grade but the 6th and 9th posted declines in reading, though the improvements in 6th and 9th grade were significant. The district did better in math, either improving or holding steady in all grades except the 5th, where students lost one percentage point over 2009.

Two significant bright spots: Flagler Palm Coast High School, which scored an overall “D” its last time out, improved its 10th grade reading scores from 31 percent proficiency last year (or 10th graders passing the test, and therefore qualifying for graduation two years later) to 35 percent this year, exceeding the district average by one point. But Flagler 10th graders are still well below the state average of 39 percent who pass their first time out. The high school’s 10th graders vastly improved in math over last year’s crop, too: 73 percent got a passing grade or better, compared to 65 percent last year. Reading and math grades are critical: without a passing grade in both, students may not graduate.

Ninth graders at FPC did exceedingly better in reading, too, improving proficiency rates from 41 percent last year to 52 percent this year, the single-largest jump in reading in any discipline, in any grade, the district. Ninth graders’ successful math rate at FPC declined by one point, from 67 to 66 percent, but 10th graders improved their math rate from 65 percent to 73 percent, a significant jump that helped the district overall improve from 67 to 71 (in the 10th grade math category). In all, improvements at FPC suggest that the school’s “D,” which it got last year, is history.

But reading in 10th grade remains a dismal story no matter how you look at it. Just 35 percent of FPC’s 10th graders scored a 3 or above this year. It’s up from 31 percent, but that’s like being up from catacombs (a word 75 percent of 10th graders likely would not understand, but should). Matanzas’ 10th graders took a big slouch downward, from 42 percent passing at 3 or above last year to 36 percent this year. Overall, just 34 percent of the district’s 10th graders are proficient. A slightly larger proportion actually passed, and may qualify for graduation, because in 10th grade, the state plays games with the scoring system, lowering the bar of a passing grade below that of actual proficiency, otherwise too many 10th graders would despair and quit. The state’s thinking is to deceive them a bit longer and let them despair after they graduate.

The decline in reading abilities isn’t a Flagler specialty, but a Florida specialty. Look at the graph above. It’s a literacy nosedive as students sprout up and bulk up.

For better news, go back to middle school.

Buddy Taylor Middle School‘s 7th graders scored the single-biggest jump in math in any grade with a nine-point improvement, from 54 percent to 63 percent. Matanzas High School‘s 9th graders scored an equally big jump in reading, from 47 percent to 56 percent.

Keep in mind that it’s not quite a fair comparison: comparing one class to another doesn’t take in account vast differences between classes. It’s entirely possible that one class is more intellectually endowed than another, just as social and economic conditions may affect one class more than another. Rymfire Elementary‘s students have been especially buffeted by transience as a result of the housing crash. So it’s not entirely a reflection of the school’s quality itself that grades decline year over year–just as it’s not necessarily a reflection of the school if grades improve. Many factors play into the results either way, which is why, the state’s high-stakes obsession with those scores aside, FCAT scores should be kept in perspective.

It’s equally notable that, while Florida may take pride in its scores, with big majorities of its students appearing to be proficient in reading, math and writing (except in high school), Floridians fare far more poorly when compared to national standards. Most would fail national proficiency standards either in math or in reading and writing.

That, too, should be kept in mind as you take in some statewide back-patting highlights, as reported by the state Department of Education:

    The percentage of students scoring proficient and above in reading increased by one point in grades 6 (67 percent), 7 (68 percent), 8 (55 percent), and 9 (48 percent), and two points in grade 10 (39 percent).

  • The percentage of students scoring proficient and above in mathematics increased by one point in grades 5 (63 percent) and 7 (61 percent), two points in grades 6 (57 percent) and 8 (68 percent), and four points in grade 10 (73 percent).
  • The percentage of students scoring proficient and above in science increased by three points in grade 5 (49 percent), two points in grade 8 (43 percent), and one point in grade 11 (38 percent).

You can check school-by school 2010 results in math and reading, with comparisons to previous years going back to 2006. The individual school reports are being posted gradually. Check back soon if your school is not yet on the list. Just click on the school in the chart below:

FCAT Report Cards By School

Complete 3rd Graders' 2010 FCAT Scores By School
Belle Terre Elementary
Bunnell Elementary
Old Kings Elementary
Rymfire Elementary
Wadsworth Elementary
Buddy Taylor Middle School
Indian Trails Middle School
Matanzas High School
Flagler Palm Coast High School
FlaglerLive thanks Flagler County Schools' Jim Devine, without whose help these reports would not have been possible.

9 Responses for “Flagler Schools’ FCAT Reading Scores Disappoint, Math Scores a Plus”

  1. Jim Guines says:

    This testing program costs the state over $254,000,000. I for one, believe that there is a lot of waste in this expense. This amount of money would help local districts buy teaching services. Also, the validity of FCAT tests are highly questionable.

  2. Colleen Conklin says:

    Thanks for the perspective – it would be interesting to look at the charts for 2010 comparing the district to the state. It would seem to present a different picture.

  3. Colleen Conklin says:

    Dr. Guines,
    I would completely agree with your comment. This is the biggest scam and the millions upon millions of dollars that are spent are criminal.

  4. Mr. Cunningham says:

    It sure would be nice if the county’s charter schools were actually represented here as they are indeed schools, filled with students with parents and families all the same.

  5. H Peter Stolz says:

    OK Jim, that figure has my attention. And of course when you add in the many hours students are taught how to take the tests, the number would be even more outrageous. Of course even with this expensive, poor test, our students in Flagler don’t seem to do as good as the Florida average. A lot of tax money is being spent on schools/education in this county for what appear to be continued mediocre results. Perhaps national test results can be used – but oh then we would have the problem outlined above that “Most would fail national proficiency standards either in math or in reading and writing.”
    It’s a conundrum. Some propose: No evaluations! Live and let live. The teacher should have academic freedom without interference. To that I say: Baloney!
    There must be a way to assure the taxpayer that we are getting our money’s worth and that more importantly our future leaders are being given the opportunity to learn. The childrens’ needs to learn cry out for a system that evaluates whether teachers, tenured or not, allow them to learn.

  6. Jim Guines says:

    Peter, you are so right as it would be a lot cheaper for school districts to use a good valid standardized test than the FCAT to test as it has no norms of a national level and can only be compared to itself, Also, the development cost as well as scoring would be low, It seems stupid that the state continues to use a model that tests all grades as oposed to 4-8-11, but since the tests results can only be compared to itself it forces the show of a lot of data to confuse the public and educators ,also. Testing is the big money game in education and people like money. It is no big secret that one of the Bush brothers runs a major testing company.

  7. Mr. Cunningham says:

    At Imagine, the charter school whose results are not featured above, we administer the SAT-10 to every grade but Kindergarten, at the beginning of the year and end of the year in order to measure student growth. These data become our litmus test for whether we are succeeding for failing our families. It sounds like maybe the district schools and their constituents would find this process more helpful than the FCAT.

  8. School Board Candidate Peter Peligian says:

    The state-mandated test accomplishes nothing more than create an artificial standard; one imposed by an administrative body without concern for local resources and socio-economic demographic nuances.
    There are two debatable issues which, although distinct, often are blurred:
    1. Are our students better prepared for greater academic endeavors by taking the FCAT?
    I say no. The FCAT looms as the “500 lb gorilla in the room”. It dominates our educators’ focus and has become an end unto itself. It does not encourage a balance of academics, problem-solving skills, and personal growth. I suggest that we, the hostages, break free of the shackles of state-imposed constraints which benefit the few and become more community-responsive to our local academic goals.
    2. Is the FCAT a fair measure of a teacher’s effectiveness?
    I say no. Teachers have no choice but to “teach to the test”. Ask one about the excitement they were able to create in their classroom in pre-FCAT days; the joy of instilling curiousity, opening young minds, developing a sense of teamwork, and community. Today, those same instructors’ creativity is stifled as they march to the beat of remotely-imposed expectations with no regard for Flagler-centric needs.
    Enough is enough. Let’s reclaim our children’s futures.

  9. PCadiron says:

    I’m a new parent, so please excuse my ignorant questions. Do the children need to pass the FCATs in order to advance to the next grade? Do they affect their overall GPA when applying to colleges? Are charter and private schools required to administer these tests? Do the scores determine the school rating? What rating are the Flagler district schools?

    My son is only 2, but I am very concerned with what I have read in some of the articles on this site. It seems there is no good choice in Flagler County, or maybe even in Florida overall!!! Should we be preparing to move out of state before he starts Kindergarten? (We moved here from NC)

    To the parents out there who expect their children to get a good education, whether public, charter, or private, please offer me some advice!!!


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