Testing in Florida: An Overview
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By GreatSchools Staff
Which results are included on GreatSchools profiles?
GreatSchools shows the percentage of students scoring at or above grade level (level 3 or higher) on the FCAT reading, math, and science tests. FCAT writing results, displayed separately, show the percentage of students scoring at or above level 3.5.
How does the FCAT affect promotion?
There are no passing scores set for grades 4 through 9. Students in grade 3 who score at level 1 (out of 5) on the FCAT reading test will not be promoted to the next grade unless there is other evidence that proves these students can read on grade level. Students who are retained will be given intensive instruction in reading to help them meet the standards.
Each local school board is required to have a pupil progression plan which sets guidelines for promotion from grade to grade. The plan must include clearly defined proficiency levels in reading, writing, math and science and must consider the FCAT scores in determining whether or not a student should be promoted.
Does Florida have a high school exit exam?
All students must earn a passing score of 300 on the grade 10 FCAT in reading and math in order to graduate from high school. Students who fail the grade 10 FCAT have many opportunities to retake the test.
Florida had planned to require students in the class of 2010 and beyond to pass the grade 10 writing test in order to graduate, but this requirement was postponed indefinitely in April 2008.
Are some students given special consideration?
Special accommodations for learning-disabled students and limited English proficient students are available, but all students must take the grade 10 FCAT in order to receive a high school diploma.
Why do the tests matter?
FCAT scores are important for schools because they help determine whether a school will receive financial rewards or penalties from the state. Florida gives each school a letter grade (A-F) based on: overall performance of the school's students on the FCAT, the percentage of eligible students who took the test, and whether or not students are making adequate progress in reading and math.
It is important to pay attention to your child's FCAT scores because all high school students must pass the grade 10 FCAT in reading and math to graduate. Students who do not pass the reading and math portions of the test in grade 10 have many opportunities to retake the test. All grade 3 students who score at level 1 in reading on the FCAT are retained, unless there is other evidence to prove they can read at grade level.
If the school's overall scores are low, ask what steps the school is taking to raise achievement levels for all students, and what you as a parent can do to help. If your child is in a failing school, ask what your options are for transferring and obtaining supplemental educational services through Florida's A+ Plan for Education.