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Schools ponder mailing scores

Some Tampa Bay officials say the cost is too steep. Thus, parents may have to wait until next term for their kids' FCAT scores.

By STEPHEN HEGARTY and KELLY RYAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 29, 2000


Now that the test scores finally are out, parents are starting to wonder when they'll see individual scores for their children.

If you live in Pasco or Citrus County, it could be very soon. Those school districts are expected to mail results home to parents in the next few days.

But most students in other Tampa Bay area school districts might have to wait until the beginning of the school year to pick them up at school.

"We estimate the cost to be about $50,000 to mail them," said Pinellas schools Superintendent Howard Hinesley. "It's just too expensive."

Hinesley said he has not made a final decision not to mail scores -- but it looks unlikely considering the cost, the number of people needed to stuff envelopes and the number of scores that could get returned through the mail. He hopes to make a final decision soon.

Sandi Phillips understands it would be expensive for Pinellas to mail scores -- but she still wants to know how her eighth-grade son did.

"I didn't know until yesterday they weren't coming in the mail," Phillips said. "You wonder how your own child's results are, and not knowing is very discouraging."

Most years, school districts send out results with student report cards. But this year is not like most years.

Scores on the state's annual writing, reading and math tests were weeks late, so districts are coming up with alternate distribution plans on the fly.

In Hillsborough County, fifth- and eighth-graders can expect to get results in the mail later this summer. That's because those students won't be returning to their schools next year; the fifth-graders move on to middle school, and the eighth-graders move on to high school. That mailing of 22,000 is expected to cost about $14,000, said district spokesman Mark Hart.

All other Hillsborough County students will have to wait to pick up results at school around the start of the school year.

Pasco County plans to mail out test results. They estimate it will cost at least $10,000.

In Hernando County, elementary school parents are being invited to visit their schools to look at the reports. A notice on the school marquees will carry the invitation. Parents of middle and high school students are being urged to call their schools, which will decide for themselves whether to resort to a mass mailing.

Citrus County will mail results home in the next 10 days.

At Inverness Primary School, which went from a C grade to an A, Principal Terry Charles was quite eager to get those scores home to children and parents.

She sent her staff to the county office to pick up results, which were promptly stuffed into envelopes. Some parents could have results today. "You know feedback is important," Charles said. "They're as anxious to know how they did as we have been and parents have been a real part of this whole thing."

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Times staff writers Barbara Behrendt and Robert King contributed to this report.

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