Monday, May 14, 2012

2012 FCAT Writing Scores Plummet, Emergency Meeting Announced

TALLAHASSEE, Florida -- Florida's State Board of Education will hold an emergency meeting by conference call on May 15, 2012, at 10:30 a.m.  The purpose of the emergency meeting is to discuss the results of student writing proficiency as measured by the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) and their impact on school grades. 


According to preliminary results released by the Board, only 27% of 4th graders, 33% of 8th graders, and 38% of 10th graders received a writing FCAT score of 4 or above in 2012 versus 81%, 82%, and 75% respectively in 2011.


The Board said in a bulletin that it finds an immediate danger to the public health, safety or welfare based upon the following: School Grades as defined in Section 1008.34, F.S., are based on a combination of factors, including annual student writing proficiency as measured by the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) for fourth, eighth, and tenth grades.  Current Rule 6A-1.09981, F.A.C., awards credit to schools toward their school grades based upon the percentage of students scoring “4.0” or higher on FCAT writing.  The 4.0 threshold is an increase from a previously designated threshold of 3.5.


In May 2011, the Board changed the FCAT writing standards and sent a memo to Florida school districts in July of the same year that the change in the scoring of FCAT Writing in 2012 was to increase expectations regarding the correct use of standard English conventions and the quality of details provided as support.  According to the Board, both of these elements had in the past been scored with leniency.


The manner in which the 2012 FCAT Writing assessment was scored changed from prior administrations for two reasons.  First, the Department returned to the use of two raters to score each test rather than one, and second, the scoring rules required higher proficiency for each level than those in all prior years.  When the increased threshold of 4.0 was established by rule, the State Board of Education did not have, and could not have had, impact data that would reflect how the scoring rules changes would impact student results and the school grade calculations. 


Based on preliminary results of the 2012 writing assessment, applying the 4.0 threshold in addition to the heightened scoring rules may have unforeseen adverse impacts upon school grades, warranting emergency review by the State Board of Education the bulletin said.


A school’s grade has wide-ranging impact for districts, parents, students, and tax-payers. The Board says it is necessary that school grades accurately and fairly reflect a school’s efforts and that the grades be released as soon as possible after the close of one school year to allow school districts time to prepare for the next school year. 


Preparations to be taken by school districts as a result of school grades include: contracting for services to poor performing schools; closing repeat, poor performing schools; shifting staff, students, and faculty; allocating special service cases, reallocating dollars appropriated through the Florida Education Finance Program, and providing opportunity scholarships to students attending failing schools.


The Department concludes that the procedure used is fair under the circumstances based upon the following: The final writing scores and impact data have just become available to the agency and due to the need to release school grades in a timely fashion, a non-emergency meeting would not allow sufficient time to consider the results and impact on school grades. 

UPDATE: 
Central Florida School Boards Call For External Audit of FCAT 2.0
9th and 10th Grade 2012 FCAT Reading Scores Released

28 comments:

  1. Gee, I wonder if it's because the test was given wrong at several schools and they had to be invalidated? Roosevelt Elem. being one.

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    1. Where does your info come from?

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  2. Fat, Drunk, and Stupid is no way to go through life, son. Parents too.

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  3. I know for a fact that this years test was much more challenging than prior years. However, too much importance has been placed on testing scores. District and state testing scores does not reflect a well balanced education. There is too much pressure put on these children to perform on the FCAT.

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    1. ...how do you "know for a fact?" Teachers, and test administrators are not allowed to view the materials before, during or after the exam; signing a document that places their teaching certificate on the line if they are to have any knowledge of the exam. Therefore I ask, HOW exactly do you know - or are you someone for which the rules do not apply?

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  4. SURPRISE..NO !! ....more pressure on scores, data, performance in the ever changing world; how many test are given in a week ? in a month ? in a year ? CAN we have the kids digest first ?? I wonder, GOV. SCOTT and D.O.E.,time to look at THE AVERAGE CHILD in the classroom??

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    1. Keep pushing students out the door without life skills?

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  5. Will they pleas stop screwing around with these tests. I'm to the point where I can't wait for my child to get out of the school system. This whole system sucks. They wonder why kids get so stressed and depressed and scared.

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  6. When children use texting, grammar and spelling go out the window. That is what these tests are confirming. Do not lower the test standards. This is a skill needed to function in the real world.

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  7. Yes,because in the real world, we're constantly asked to write a five paragraph story about an imaginary camel ride in 45 minutes or less.

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    1. Thank you. That prompt was very difficult for students who live in Florida and have most likely NEVER been on a camel. There are so many topics the state could have chosen and this is the one they picked. Very disappointed.

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    2. Seriously? Horrible system that asks our students to use their imaginations! Horrors! Horrors! No wonder Florida is in the state it's in. Maybe parents can sue the stand to ensure their children will be able to land solid lifelong careers at Wal-Mart! No wonder FL has a terrible reputation.

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    3. No, not in the state known for the wonders and magic of Disney World (where dreams really do come true and where you are expected to have a magical day). Immagination is for sissies - why the heck haven't we started those 7 year olds in pre-calc yet?! What are we waiting for?!

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  8. Great. My fourth grader knows how to do basic algebra but he can't spell and doesn't know how to write. Way to go FCAT's. Take away our school's funding, give them complex high school math to have to teach kids who barely know how to add and then ask them why our kids don't know basic grammar, spelling and sentence structure.

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  9. Maybe lowering the passing score is a good transition. Nonetheless, accounting for grammar, vocabulary, and spelling was the right thing to do. Texting and technology is depleting our kids of basic skills. As an educator in a title one school, I can see how the results are valid with the new standards. I agree that the topics are disinteresting, but I am sure the spelling, grammar, and punctuation account for most of the lower scores over detailing. Good luck Florida on enforcing higher standards and more accountability for parents.

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  10. I agree with the texting comment above. Writing and punctuation are extremely important in the business environment. Read some posts on Facebook from teenagers and you will see how absolutely unprepared they are to becoming professionals in our society. The bar should be raised!

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  11. As an educator, I definitely agree that punctuation and grammar are extremely important and also agree with the texting comments. There's a huge gap in that area today. However, I don't think people understand just what students are required to do during this writing test. They are required to PLAN what they are going to write about, to a prompt they JUST saw, WRITE an essay at least five paragraphs long(being creative of course), and then EDIT what they wrote (taking into account grammar, punctuation, etc.), and have it make sense, all in 45 MINUTES. Could you do that??

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    1. Amen! They read their prompt, decide if it is expository, persuasive or narrative, plan a response and execute it, in 45 minutes. As an "exceptional" teacher for many decades, I would place our fourth grade writers in recent years at the top of the national heap. Teachers live, eat and breathe educational excellence into their classrooms as never before, and, remember, I have been around a long time. Brevard County schools ARE schools of excellence. How long has it been since you were in a fourth grade classroom? These teachers did not give birth to the child, but they take each student as he or she comes in, and maximizes that child's potential. What are YOU doing to insure that EVERY STUDENT CAN? It takes a village: parents, relatives, our social system and social media, the educational system, high expectancies... and so much more. Our stems of condemnation need fixing. It is ok to say what is wrong with these results, but it is NOT ok to rush to condemnation.

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  12. I wonder how many fourth grade teachers would pass the fcat exam?

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  13. There seem to be a lot of excuses but the realities are:
    1. We need a harder test--check our recent performance internationally;
    2. We need to get teachers to teach the basics, not the test or how to pass a test;
    3. We need to test the teachers to see if they can do what they are supposed to be teaching.
    I suggest that we dump environmental science until high school and return to teaching the basic skills AND we hold back children who can't read or write on the educational level for the grade they are in.

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    1. Spot on! Requirements are shot-gunned to a hundred different subjects including entirely too much on environmental and social issues. Students are not taught to mastery of anything and therefore don't master anything. Narrow the requirements (essential subjects- 3 R's) and teach to mastery.

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    2. Well said, the expectations need to be higher, not lower and we really do need to get back to basics. Bravo.

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  14. Will you pass the FCAT writing?

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  15. Lets be honest here. What students are asked to do is to simply make logical, coherent sense of a simple set of instructions. I don't know about anyone else out there, but as a classroom teacher I can tell you (and I am merely speaking from personal teaching experience; I would never want to put words in the mouths of superior beings in the educational world like ploititians or people who actually make the decisions for what it is our children should and shouldn't know), that the exam simply exposes what it is as a society we are lacking. We do not value language or communication in its most simple state. We are raising a generation who cares have no social skills (yes, that text message you just sent telling your co-worker "lol idk y she RT that?!" doesn't count). We get 'bored' with a conversation- we take out our phones, we are waiting for an appointment or in an airport - we take out our phone, out at dinner, in line at the store, in public restrooms (for heavens' sake) - we take out our phone. We are modeling anti-social behavior for kids and fail to communicate like reasonable, rational and intelligent human beings. A child will develop language, fluency and vocabulary the longer they are exposed to it and are able to efficiently utlize it. When we continue to give them the easy way out and scale back the requirements because 'they don't want to,' or 'they're too hard' we are cheating their generation of the necessary skills that it takes to find success in the world. Yes, technology and communication via technology are essential to our ever changing world, but don't for one moment think that we are serving ourselves well in constantly taking short-cuts and lowering our standards. There is a reason that the United States has fallen off as a major power in world education - we've bgun to cater to the wimpers and whines of our children. When things get tough, we do not expect that they will persevere; instead, they expect that someone (a parent, the law, whomever) will be on their side to say "I'll help you get your way," instead of "I'm going to work harder."
    But what do I know, I'm just a teacher; perhaps if the FCAT and State writing exam were around to help me, I'd have written a better essay...

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  16. SMH, plz spellings not impotent i meen hoo cars if i kan spell i right the wight way on the test so quit hasling me. the reel word doesnt car if i kan writ a essey knowbuddy writs esseys in reel lif any way! this is jus sum cray teachs on a power trip yall as long as u git wat im saying it dooznt matter who i say it. fuh reel weather u lick it or not kids r only gonna do what theey want neways.

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  17. I disagree with the texting example. Kids know how to use correct punctuation and grammer. Teachers (well at least my teacher) have been drilling us all year. Lol suck mi pp bruhbruh camels boi i had a topiv on vacation or some poop kifda can make up storiea its calles crativiry they arw teating on grammer not the poop un thw toilet bruhhhhh

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  18. How about it was the stupidest prompt ever given? Has anyone thought about the prompt? No. It is not the kids. Thanks.

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