After a lengthy delay, state finally delivers test scores
By Suzanne Schmidt
With FCAT (Florida’s Comprehensive Assessment Test) scores rolling in, many school principals are working hard to crunch numbers and make adjustments.
The Florida Department of Education experienced delays receiving scores from contractor NCS Pearson, and state officials have announced plans to seek millions of dollars in fines for the late scores.
Each school should have the individual student reports for distribution to students and parents by July 8, according to NCS Pearson. In the meantime, schools will be using electronic scores to start analyzing the results.
Garry Walthall, Sunlake High School principal, said getting the scores so late did cause him to have to shuffle some things around.
“It will impact us,” Walthall said. “Those students who did not meet district expectations will have to be assigned specific classes. They may have to be pulled from an elective course and put in a different class. It is still early, but those things need to be done.”
Based on the scores, students will be placed in classes that address their weaknesses. For example students, who scored at a Level 1 or Level 2 in reading, might get put into reading classes in lieu of an elective.
“We want to provide the students with some additional work in these areas so we can strengthen their skills,” Walthall said. “We have sufficient time to notify the students and we have enough teachers and courses to make it work.”
Students’ individual FCAT scores will be sent to the schools next week and the schools will stuff them into envelopes. They will then be sent back to the district office with students’ report cards for a mass mailing.
The state Department of Education has asked school districts to track costs related to the scores arriving late, so they can be reimbursed by the testing company.
“On the final report card, there will be the four areas and it will identify if they are meeting the standards,” Walthall said. “We will also include a letter if the students need additional assistance in a certain area.”
Carin Nettles, principal at Wesley Chapel High School, is working with the same issues.
“We had to hold off on a whole piece of the master schedule,” Nettles said. “The scores are an integral part of how we look at the numbers. The students who didn’t pass with high enough scores will have to be pulled from their electives.”
She said even though it was stressful, she is pleased with the scores she has looked up.
“It adds to the stress level,” Nettles said. “We want these scores to figure these things out. Overall I am very pleased with what I have looked at so far. We still have to look at a lot of things though.”
Nettles said she is happy with some of the scores she has looked up like how the scores in reading for her 9th and 10th graders went up by two percent.
She was especially pleased with her students’ writing scores. She said there were 11 students who achieved the highest score where last year she only had two and there were 52 students who achieved a five where last year she only had 20.
The next step is to identify the students in the lowest 25 percent and see if their scores went up or down.
She said she is looking forward to seeing the school’s new grade later this year.
“We won’t know our school grade until they add in some other information like the graduation rate and the AP scores,” Nettles said. “We won’t have all of that information until November.”
Throughout Pasco County, the District School Board reported students are excelling and outpacing the state average in several areas. There was an overall increase of six percentage points in 10th grade mathematics scores, with 85 percent of high schools maintaining or improving their performances from last year.
Every high school in Pasco showed increases in the percent of students scoring a 4.0 or higher on the writing assessment. The district’s 10th-graders also showed an overall improvement of four percentage points in reading with nine of the 11 general high schools maintaining or improving their performance.
The district also reported 92 percent of elementary, 95 percent of middle and 94 percent of high school students earned a score of 3.0 or higher.
Pasco students also showed an improvement in all grade levels on their science assessment with middle school students performing above the state average while
76 percent of elementary schools and 75 percent of high schools maintained or improved their science performance compared to last year.
In addition to helping counselors determine course placement and the state assign letter grades, test scores also determine which schools qualify for state bonus money.
For more information, visit www.flboe.org.
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