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Reading and math scores dip in two grades

FCAT scores are up across the board, except for fourth-grade reading and ninth-grade math.

Published May 24, 2006

INVERNESS - Citrus County students showed general improvement on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, according to results released Tuesday.

Reading and math scores were generally up in grades 4-10 this year, but there were lower scores in fourth-grade reading and ninth-grade math, the results show.

Despite the dips, Citrus students matched or outperformed those elsewhere in the state.

In reading, Citrus students posted gains at every level except fourth grade. Seventy-six percent of fourth-graders are reading at or above grade level, a decrease of 2 percentage points over last year's performance.

In math, Citrus students improved their scores at every level except ninth grade. Fifty-nine percent of ninth-graders scored at or above grade level in math, down from 64 percent last year.

Gina Tovine, the district's research and accountability director, said the weak ninth-grade math scores underscore the need for reform at the high schools.

At all three Citrus high schools, ninth-grade math scores dropped. Lecanto High freshman math scores were 7 percentage points lower than they were last year, when 66 percent scored at or above grade level.

"That transition from the eighth grade to the ninth grade is difficult," Tovine said. "This is another sign that we need to help make that transition smoother for our ninth-graders."

Rather than taking math for only one semester, all Citrus ninth-graders next year will be required to take yearlong math classes, beginning with Algebra I. All students must also take four years of math to graduate.

Overall, Tovine said, she was pleased with the district's performance on the FCAT this year.

She said all middle schools made gains in reading and math over what they were last year.

In math, 55 percent of the district's sixth-graders scored at or above grade level, an increase in 10 percentage points over last year's score. The highest scores were posted by students at Lecanto Middle School, where 71 percent of the sixth-graders earned passing reading scores.

"It shows that our emphasis on middle school reform this past year must be working," Tovine said.

For example, this was the first year that all middle schools were assigned reading coaches. The coaches helped the schools incorporate literacy across the curriculum, including in science and social studies.

At the elementary schools, fourth-grade reading scores dropped by 2 percentage points over last year's score, with 78 percent of fourth-graders scoring at grade level or above. But the group posted impressive gains in math, with 75 percent of them scoring at grade level or above, an increase in 10 percentage points over last year's score.

In other education news:

The School Board got a glimpse Tuesday of the budget for the coming fiscal year that includes $10-million more in revenues but also $10-million in expenditures from the 2005-06 budget.

Finance director Sam Hurst said the district will receive an estimated $114.8-million from the state but plans to spend $115.1-million. He said the district's expenses are being driven up by higher costs in insurance, utilities and fuel, along with salary increases.

[Last modified May 24, 2006, 02:45:18]

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