Thursday, May 03, 2007
Hundreds more Palm Beach County third-graders could be held back this year, based on reading scores released Wednesday showing a decline on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test after four straight years of improvement.
In some schools, the percentage of students failing the reading test doubled.
Across the state, third-grade reading scores dropped for the first time since the test was administered in 2001. Scores improved in only six of 67 school districts, prompting head-scratching among everyone from classroom teachers to the state commissioner of education.
State officials tried to deflect attention from the one-year dip and focus on the long-term improvement. They characterized the 2006 scores as a "spike" and this year as a return to normalcy.
"We don't think the performance of this year's third-graders is in any way a downturn in our trend," said Cornelia Orr, administrator for the state Office of Assessment and School Performance. "It's clearly on track. It's just that last year's performance was stellar."
No one saw this year's drop coming. Practice FCAT tests administered by many school districts, including Palm Beach County, predicted a different outcome.
Superintendent Art Johnson said he's "not buying" that the test scores reflect a weaker crop of readers in this year's third-grade class. The state must have graded the test wrong this year or last, or the test was more difficult this year, Johnson said.
"It would be a horrible thing if they had made a mistake, for the entire state to be off because of a Department of Education error," he said. "That would be a very embarrassing and bad thing."
Before announcing Wednesday's scores, state officials conducted a study of this year's reading test questions and found that it was no more difficult than previous tests, actingEducation Commissioner Jeanine Blomberg said. They also ruled out other anomalies, such as a large number of students moving during the school year.
State officials plan to look for other clues, including whether schools with reading coaches or other programs bucked the state trend.
In Palm Beach County, only 18 of more than 100 regular public schools saw an increase in the percentage of students reading on grade level. A number of charter schools also saw improvements.
Among all third-graders, 19 percent (2,408 students) failed the 50-question multiple-choice reading test, compared with 15 percent last year.
Math scores offered a positive departure. The percentage of county students scoring on grade level jumped from 73 percent to 76 percent.Scores also improved statewide.But the math scores are not as important.
Students who fail the reading test must repeat third grade, with some exceptions. . . .
"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972
Thursday, May 03, 2007
FCAT Reading Scores Plunge, Thousands More Left Behind
Florida has to be the poster state for educational reform via oppressive testing, and they are leaders in the preferred Reading First direct instruction and phonics-based reading instruction approach. Last year former Education Commissioner Winn couldn't have made the State's position clearer when he said "we believe that testing well is reading well." As in years past, two-thirds of the of the thousands of 3rd graders who failed the FCAT were held back. This year guarantees that thousands more predominantly poor, black, and brown third-graders will learn failure at an early age. From the Palm Beach Post: