Percentage of students by grade passing FCAT reading and writing:
Collier 55 percent (9th) 50 percent (10th)
Lee 53 percent (9th) 49 percent (10th)
State 52 percent (9th) 50 percent (10th)
Collier 74 percent (4th) 77 percent (8th) 84 percent (10th)
Lee 85 percent (4th) 80 percent (8th) 85 percent (10th)
State 81 percent (4th) 78 percent (8th) 84 percent (10th)
About half of Southwest Florida’s ninth and 10th graders will have to retake the FCAT reading test next year, according to results released by the state Friday.
Statewide, only about 50 percent of Florida students earned a passing score on the reading test this year, putting those that didn’t pass at risk for graduation. The state increased the rigor and the score needed to pass the test earlier this school year.
“It is still better that we’re pushing our kids even if it shows they are taking a lesser score,” Collier Superintendent Kamela Patton said. “It’s better that we continue to raise the bar.”
This year’s 10th graders will have four more chances to retake the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test to earn a passing score — a level three or higher on a five-level scale — to graduate. In the past, students could graduate with a lower score.
The district anticipated that about half of the students wouldn’t pass, Patton said.
“We know that it’s an unrealistic expectation that halfway through high school we’re expecting them to know four years of knowledge in two years,” she said. The district will offer students who did not pass an additional period of reading, educate parents about the test, give teachers more training and ensure that students retake the test in October.
Statewide, 52 percent of ninth-graders passed the reading test, as did 50 percent of 10th graders.
“Are we happy with half of the students failing?” asked Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson. “Most people across the board would say no. But we are happy with the progress that we’re making ... to make sure that next year and the year after students are moving in the right direction.”
Collier’s reading scores were slightly higher in ninth grade and equal to the state in 10th grade. Fifty-five percent of Collier ninth graders passed the test, compared to 52 percent statewide. In Lee, 53 percent of ninth graders and 49 percent of 10th graders passed the reading test.
“We knew the new FCAT 2.0 was going to be more rigorous, and we’ve been preparing since school started this year,” Lee Superintendent Joseph Burke said. “It’s a harder test but it’s never a bad thing to increase expectations. In the long run, this will benefit our students tremendously.”
The state also released updated writing scores after panic from districts earlier this week about dramatically low scores. As a result, the state lowered the score needed to pass.
Collier scored slightly below average with 74 percent of fourth graders, 77 percent of eighth graders and 84 percent of tenth graders passing. Lee exceeded the state average by a few percentage points in all grades for writing.
The state average for students passing the writing test was 81 percent in fourth grade, 78 percent in eighth grade and 84 percent in 10th grade.
Patton said that the Collier school district has the fourth highest number of students learning English as a second language of the 67 districts in Florida. Lee ranks 15th, she said.
This reflects the lower writing scores, she said. When third grade reading scores are released next week, Patton anticipates the scores to be even lower than the ninth and 10th grade scores.
“We have more kids that it’s not their native language” she said. “They have to acquire that skill and it’s going to affect us more in elementary school.”
The remaining FCAT reading, math and science scores will be released within the next few weeks.