FCAT reading scores lower; 20 percent in Palm Beach County risk not passing third grade

As many as 2,717 third-graders in Palm Beach County - a fifth of county students in that grade - may be forced to repeat the third grade next year because of failing scores on the reading FCAT.

The Florida Department of Education released third-grade reading and math scores for schools and districts this morning. The results show that 20 percent of county third-graders scored at the lowest level on the test, compared with 18 percent of third-graders statewide.

That's more kids failing than last year, in which 18 percent of county third-graders failed the reading FCAT.

State education officials had anticipated a drop in scores on this test this year because reading and math FCAT tests are being scored according to a tougher grading standard. This new grading standard was set because the state moved from the FCAT to the more rigorous FCAT 2.0.

The third-grade reading FCAT is crucial because it determines whether students will be able to move to fourth grade. The only other statewide tests this year with such high stakes are the 10th grade reading FCAT and the Algebra 1 end-of-course exam; passing them is required for high school graduation.

Students who score at the lowest level on the third-grade reading exam - a 1 out of 5 - will have to repeat the third grade, with some exceptions.

Last year, 2,405 third-graders risked repeating a grade because of low reading scores, but a majority got promoted to fourth grade anyway because they were able to show other measures of performance.

Seven Palm Beach County elementary schools had half or more of their students score at the lowest level on the third-grade reading FCAT this year: Glade View, West Riviera, K. E. Cunningham/Canal Point, Pioneer Park, Belle Glade, South Grade and Pleasant City.

The third-grade math FCAT is not required for promotion. On that test, students are measured by whether they score a 3 or higher on a scale of 5, which means they are performing at grade level.

In Palm Beach County, 56 percentage of third-graders are performing at or above grade level, according to figures released this morning, compared with 58 percent statewide.

That's a DROP from 75 percent of third-graders who passed the math FCAT last year.

More detailed information can be seen here: http://fcat.fldoe.org/mediapacket/2012/default.asp

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