By Matt Wiley
This year’s Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) scores are in, and New Tampa’s schools clearly have been working hard.
According to the FCAT 2.0 test score reports released by the Florida Department of Education (DOE), the Hillsborough County School District (HCSD) performed well on the tests given in reading (grades 3-10), math (grades 3-8), science (grades 5 & 8) and writing (grades 4, 8 & 10).
The FCAT 2.0 test was put into practice in 2011 and measures student achievement according to “Next Generation Sunshine State Standards,” which are more rigorous than those tested on the original FCAT test. FCAT scores will later be factored into school assessments, which the DOE reports as school letter grades each year.
New Tampa students, for the most part, tested higher than the state averages in most of the testing. In math, reading and science, scores are measured on a 0.0-5.0 grade scale, with Level 3 demonstrating proficiency.
For a comparison between each individual school and the State and District averages, please consult the charts included on this page.
A Brief Overview Of FCAT Reading, Math & Science
In FCAT Reading, Tampa Palms Elementary’s third graders, Chiles Elementary’s fourth graders and Pride Elementary’s fifth graders exceeded both the State and District averages by more than 20 percentage points. Liberty and Benito Middle School’s students beat the State and District averages in all grades, while Freedom and Wharton High each met the averages, or fell just short.
In FCAT Math, Chiles and Tampa Palms Elementaries both exceeded State and District averages in all grades, while Bartels, Benito and Liberty middle schools also each met or surpassed the averages set by the State and District.
For the second year in a row, the FCAT Science test was taken for scores that count, but the students at New Tampa’s schools exceeded both the State and District averages. Bartels only missed making the State average by one point (at 46-percent proficiency), but still exceeded the District average of 45 percent. Pride Elementary’s fifth graders exceeded both the State and District averages by more than 30 percentage points.
The FCAT Writing test is a little different than the multiple choice FCAT Math, Reading and Science tests. Instead, it provides students with either a narrative, persuasive or expository writing prompt. To the best of their abilities, fourth, eighth and tenth grade students compose a well-thought-out and well-communicated written response to the prompt, which is evaluated on a 1.0-6.0 scale. The State of Florida defines proficiency as scoring a 3.5 or higher on the FCAT Writing exam.
Although the State of Florida mean (average) score was a 3.4, or just below “proficiency,” the mean score for the students of New Tampa’s 12 schools was a 3.5. And, many of New Tampa’s schools had more than 50 percent of students scoring a 4.0 or higher (see chart).
According to a HCSD release, the District’s fourth grade mean score was a 3.6, up from last year’s score and 0.2 points above the state average of 3.4. The District’s eighth graders raised their mean score from a 3.5 to a 3.6, well above the state average of 3.3. Finally, the District’s tenth graders also averaged a 3.6, up from last year’s 3.5, which also was the state average this year.
In New Tampa, the mean fourth grade score was a 3.3, eighth graders averaged a 3.87 and tenth graders averaged a 3.55. However, when examining these numbers, it is important to consider the percentage of students in each category.
For example, Chiles Elementary had 99 percent of its fourth graders score a 3.0 or higher, 77 percent score a 3.5 or higher and 53 percent score a 4.0 or higher.
“We’re very proud of our students,” says Chiles assistant principal Mary Booth. “It comes down to students and teachers working hard and putting learning first. Our writing success goes back to lots of writing in the classroom.”
Clark and Pride Elementaries also had impressive FCAT Writing percentages. At Clark, with a mean score of 4.2, 89 percent of the students scored a 3.5 or above. Pride wasn’t far behind, also averaging a 4.2, with 86 percent scoring at least a 3.5 or above.
Among eighth graders, Benito Middle students averaged a 3.9, with 89 percent scoring a 3.0 or better, 79 percent scoring a 3.5 or higher and 64 percent scoring at least a 4.0.
Freedom High’s tenth graders averaged a 3.6 with 91 percent scoring at least a 3.0, 66 percent scoring a 3.5 or greater and 44 percent scoring a 4.0 or above.
For full FCAT score results from Hillsborough County and the rest of the State of Florida, please visit FCAT.FLDOE.org.