First FCAT scores to be released today

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BROOKSVILLE – Hernando Schools will begin receiving back Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test scores, or FCAT scores, today, according to the Florida Department of Education.

Those tests include FCAT 2.0 writing and third-grade FCAT 2.0 reading and mathematics assessments.

“The only scores we have in to-date are the FCAT re-takers for the kids who need it for graduation, and have already taken it before, and our U.S. history end-of-course exams,” District Manager of Assessment and Accountability Linda Peirce said. “We are due to get in grade three writing and biology (Friday).”

Assessments such as FCAT 2.0 and end-of-course exams are ways that Florida measures how well students have mastered the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards, said Jane Fletcher, interim deputy commissioner of accountability, research and measurement with the Florida Department of Education.

“Commissioner (Tony) Bennett often says, ‘What gets measured gets done,'” Fletcher said. “When we measure, we can see which areas need additional work and in which areas we are doing well, which schools need assistance and which schools are excelling.”

Assessment results from the FCAT 2.0 and end-of-course exams are used in Florida’s school grading calculations, which help identify schools that need assistance to improve their performance, Fletcher said. Florida’s differentiated accountability program provides support and interventions for failing schools.

“Florida’s teachers and students have shown over time that when rigorous standards are set, they will work to achieve them,” Fletcher said.

“This is one of the ways that Florida is working to help ensure that students are ready for college and career when they graduate.”

The assessments can be stressful for teachers and students. Each student’s U.S. history end-of-course assessment score is used to calculate 30 percent of the student’s final grade in the course.

Schools receive a grade from the state based on how well their students do, which has implications when it comes to funding and oversight.

“We’re kind of anxious to get test scores in,” said Mark Griffith, principal of Moton Elementary School. “Teachers work hard all year, and it’s an indication of what we’re working on, and where we can improve.”

Fifty percent of school and district grades are determined by all full-year enrolled students’ FCAT, FCAT 2.0, end-of-course assessment, and Florida Alternate Assessment scores, including students with disabilities, and English language learners who have been attending school in the U.S. for more than one year, according to the Florida Department of Education.

Department of Education informed state superintendents this week to expect all FCAT and end-of-course assessment scores by June 8, Griffith said, and since third-graders need to pass FCAT exams to advance to the fourth grade, those are the first scores typically released in the event a student does not pass.

“They typically release those first to notify parents of what their options are – whether that’s testing or whether that pretty much amounts to summer school,” Griffith said.

“There’s an additional assessment at the end of summer reading camp, which is difficult, and then they can move on to fourth grade.”

In addition to FCAT reading, math, science, and writing assessment criteria, 50 percent of school grades are also determined by participation in accelerated curricula, performance in accelerated curricula, graduation rate, at-risk graduation rate, and college readiness.

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