FCAT scores vary widely

Published April 26, 2007

BROOKSVILLE - On average, students in Hernando County did about as well as their statewide counterparts on this year's Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test for writing.

But school-by-school results showed a wide variation, with some schools far above or below the state average.

Challenger K-8 School of Science and Mathematics, a magnet school, topped Hernando elementary schools on the standardized writing exam, with 72 percent of fourth-graders scoring at or above the "proficient" level.

Several other elementary schools, including Chocachatti, Spring Hill, J.D. Floyd, Moton, Deltona, and Suncoast, scored between 50 and 69 percent proficient. But the remaining schools did worse, with just 39 percent of students at Westside Elementary and 36 percent of Brooksville Elementary students scoring at proficient levels.

At the middle school level, too, Challenger students led the county with 65 percent of eight-graders scoring at or above proficiency. Gulf Coast Academy, a charter school, was close behind with 56 percent, while West Hernando and Powell middle schools both scored above 50 percent proficient. Fox Chapel students trailed with 39 percent scoring at proficient levels.

At the high school level, 37 percent of Hernando High School students were proficient or better, compared with 51 percent at Springstead, 54 percent at Central, and 57 percent at Nature Coast Technical, a magnet school.

Overall, around 55 percent of Hernando fourth-graders scored at the "proficient" level or better, compared with a statewide average of 60 percent.

Hernando eighth-graders beat the state average by 4 points, with 49 percent at standard, while 10th-graders were 2 points above average at 50 percent.

Scores from the writing test, which is taken in February, serve as one component of a battery of state assessments that help determine whether high school students graduate with a regular diploma or third-graders can be promoted.

The writing tests include a multiple-choice section designed to measure skills like writing focus and organization, as well as an essay section.

Statewide, writing scores improved by 1 to 3 percentage points, with eighth-graders showing the largest gain of 3 points.

Commissioner of Education Jeanine Blomberg said Florida teachers deserved the credit for long-term gains in student writing scores. She pointed out that in 1999 only 34 percent of the state's fourth-graders scored at 3.5 or above out of 5.

For more information on this year's FCAT writing scores, including student and school reports, parents can visit the Florida Department of Education at www.fldoe.org.

Staff writer Donna Winchester contributed to this report. Tom Marshall can be reached at tmarshall@sptimes.com or 352 848-1431.