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Education

FCAT: Hillsborough fourth-graders top state in writing

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Published:   |   Updated: May 24, 2014 at 09:23 AM

TAMPA — Hillsborough County fourth-graders have something to celebrate – they posted the highest writing scores in the state, according to standardized test results released Friday by the Florida Department of Education.

The scores were part of the first batch of Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test scores to be made public in the coming weeks. Also released were this year’s third-grade reading and math scores.

In Hillsborough, fourth-grade writing scores saw a boost of five percentage points – 70 percent passed the test this year compared with 65 percent in 2013.

The county’s percentage of fourth-graders who passed the writing test surpasses the state average of 53 percent, down four percentage points from 57 percent the previous year.

Statewide, Florida public school students in grades eight and 10 performed slightly better in writing this year, while third-grade reading and math scores remain flat.

This is the last year for Florida students to take the FCAT. A new test aligned with the new Florida Standards will be administered next year.

“I am very pleased that our students are making steady progress as we continue the transition to more rigorous standards,” Education Commissioner Pam Stewart said during a conference call with reporters.

In reading, 57 percent of the state’s third-graders passed the test this year, the same as 2013. And 58 percent of the state’s third-graders passed the math test.

The number of Florida eighth-graders who passed the writing exam with a score of 3.5 or higher increased to 56 percent, up from 54 percent the previous year. The number of 10th-graders who passed writing went from 62 percent in 2013 to 64 percent this year.

Hillsborough students in grades eight and 10 also scored among the highest in the state on the writing portion of the FCAT.

On the reading and math exams, a score of 3.0 is considered to be passing.

Across the state, 19 percent of the third-graders scored a 1.0, putting them at risk of being retained. Locally, 17 percent of Hillsborough third-graders, 18 percent of Pasco County third-graders and 19 percent of Pinellas County third-graders scored a 1.0.

In Hillsborough, third-graders posted a gain of 3 points in reading, from 56 percent deemed proficient in 2013 to 59 percent this year. In Pasco, 58 percent are considered proficient, a 1-point decrease from 2013. In Pinellas, 55 percent passed, also down 1 point.

Third-grade math scores show that students in Hillsborough and Pinellas scored slightly better than last year – 56 percent of Hillsborough third-graders and 49 percent of Pinellas third-graders passed the exam. In Pasco, 50 percent passed, a 1-point drop from last year.

Some highlights in Hillsborough:

• At Middleton High, 67 percent of the 10th-graders passed the writing exam, up 19 points from 48 percent in 2013.

• At Just Elementary, fourth-grade writing scores improved 33 percentage points, from 39 percent passing last year to 72 percent this year.

• At Roland Park K-8, eighth-grade writing scores improved 36 points, from 47 percent passing last year to 83 percent this year.

“This is great news for our school district,” Hillsborough schools Superintendent MaryEllen Elia said in a news release. “I know our students and teachers have been working hard — and they have had plenty of support. The hard work is paying off; we are definitely getting results.”

ekourkounis@tampatrib.com

(813)259-7999

Twitter: @ErinKTBO

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