Reading scores concern officials

Published May 24, 2007

BROOKSVILLE - There were plenty of bright spots for Hernando County in the latest release of FCAT scores in reading, math and science, with strong improvement at the school levels.

But district officials remain concerned about overall achievement levels in areas such as high school reading. Just 32 percent of Hernando 10th-graders scored at proficient levels of 3 or above, said district reading specialist Deborah Pfenning.

"Districtwide it's still a problem, " she said. "But I'll take growth wherever we can get it. I'm looking at the positive."

Every high school but one saw a decline in passing levels - a score of at least 2 on the test - for 10th-grade reading. Nature Coast dropped 3 percentage points to 49 percent passing, Hernando High dropped 2 points to 48 percent, and Central dropped 1 point to 50 percent, while Springstead saw a 5-point increase to 53 percent passing.

But there were also strong improvements in some areas on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.

Hernando High, which has struggled to escape a school grade of D over the performance of low-achieving students, made the strongest gains in the district for those scoring at proficient levels in 10th-grade reading. The school was up 5 percentage points from last year, with 32 percent scoring at level 3 or above. Only Springstead did better with 34 percent scoring at those levels.

Hernando High ninth-graders also posted a sizable gain in reading, with 36 percent scoring at proficient levels or better, up 4 points from last year. Central High freshmen saw the reverse, with a 4 point drop to 37 percent at proficient or better, while Springstead dropped 2 points to 38 percent and Nature Coast held steady at 41 percent.

Hernando ninth-graders also saw an 8-point gain in those scoring at proficient levels in math, with 55 percent at or above standard, while Central High dropped 8 points to 50 percent at standard. Nature Coast freshmen gained 13 points, with 63 percent at or above standard, while 49 percent of students at Springstead scored at those levels, a four-point drop.

Pfenning said it was too early to tell how those scores would improve school grades, which are due to be released in spring.

At the elementary school level, every school but one made gains in the number of fourth-graders reading at proficient levels or better in reading, and Westside and Moton Elementary made gains of 10 and 11 percent respectively. Challenger K-8 School of Science and Mathematics, a magnet school, dropped 5 points but still leads the district with 85 percent of students scoring at those levels.

Most fifth-graders also made gains in the number of students scoring at proficient levels in reading, with a 13-point gain at Brooksville Elementary and a 14-point gain at J.D. Floyd. Moton Elementary dropped 6 points to 61 percent at or above proficiency.

While all middle schools made gains in eighth-grade reading, some seventh-grade classes struggled.

The number of Powell Middle School seventh-graders who scored at proficient levels dropped 15 percentage points to 53 percent, while Parrott students dropped 4 points to 52 percent at that level. Fox Chapel students dropped 2 points to 55 percent at proficiency or better.

At J.D. Floyd's small middle school program, 76 percent of students scored at that level, as did 87 percent of students at Challenger, up 8 points from last year.

Hernando saw districtwide gains in science proficiency at the elementary and middle school levels, and a slight drop at the high school level.

Tom Marshall can be reached at tmarshall@sptimes.com or 352 584-5537.

Fast Facts:

See for yourself

How did Hernando County schools stack up against other counties? Chart, 3.

FCAT science

This is the first year science scores have counted toward school grades. This chart shows the percentage of students performing at grade level or above. For all 2007 scores, visit fcat.fldoe.org.
Grade 5 2006 2007 Diff.
State 35 42 +7
Citrus 42 51 +9
Hernando 34 42 +8
Hillsborough 35 40 +5
Pasco 30 37 +7
Pinellas 34 39 +5
Grade 8 2006 2007 Diff.
State 32 38 +6
Citrus 37 42 +5
Hernando 31 38 +7
Hillsborough 33 40 +7
Pasco 32 37 +5
Pinellas 33 38 +5
Grade 11 2006 2007 Diff.
State 35 37 +2
Citrus 40 47 +7
Hernando 36 34 -2
Hillsborough 40 41 +1
Pasco 38 35 -3
Pinellas 38 32 -6