St. Johns Tops State in FCAT Reading Scores

Joyner: ‘You run out of superlatives’ to describe scores in reading, math, science

St. Johns County students are ending the school year on a high note — the district ranked first in the state across the board on the Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test 2.0 reading exam.

The scores released by the state Department Education on Tuesday were nearly as good in science, where the fifth grade ranked first in the state and the eighth grade ranked second.

In math, the eighth grade ranked first, and the fifth and sixth grades tied for first. The fourth grade tied for third and the seventh grade was second in the state in percentage scoring at Level 3 and above.

“It feels like we ought to have a party,” said St. Johns County School Board chair Beverly Slough after hearing the results during a workshop Tuesday morning.

The state this year toughened the tests and upped the score required for students to make Level 3, the passing mark.

“You can’t equate numbers between years (because of the changes), but I think the state achievement scores are the highest I’ve ever seen,” said St. Johns County school superintendent Joe Joyner. The scores, he said, “take your breath away; you run out of superlatives.”

He praised students, teachers, district officials and parents for their work and said students “rose to the challenge” of the tougher standards.

The Florida Department of Education has been releasing the FCAT and end-of-course exams over about six weeks in dribs and drabs.

On Tuesday the last of the results were released, including reading and math scores for fourth through eighth grades and science scores for fifth and eighth grades.

St. Johns County across the board topped state averages. However, by grade level most of the percentages of those scoring Level 3 were down from last year. It was a situation faced by school districts across the state because of the state changes.

FCAT assesses reading, math and science skills, and in April it was given to students in grades three through 10 throughout the state. Achievement levels range from 1 to 5, with Level 3 required for passing.

End-of-course exams were given in algebra 1, geometry and biology 1. St. Johns County ranked first in the state in all three categories.

Joyner has said students scoring below 3 are able to, for instance, read or do math, but a lower score indicates they need to develop their skills. For some that will mean attending summer camps or getting extra help next year. Others will remain back.

School grades for elementary and middle schools are expected to be released by the state in mid-summer. High school grades won’t be out until the fall.

Today marks the end of the school year for students, with teachers finishing up on Thursday.

By Marcia Lane
Posted: June 5, 2012 
St Augustine Record

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