By JASON WITZ, STAFF WRITER, Charlotte Sun-Herald Newspaper. Reprinted with permission.
District in top 5 for FCAT writing scores
Charlotte County students exceeded the state average on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test writing exam and placed in the top five among districts with the highest mean scores.
Superintendent David Gayler said the district earned high marks across the board on the FCAT, as the average rated second-highest for eighth- and 10th-grade students. Only four districts had a better mean score for elementary students.
“I’m extremely pleased,” Gayler said Wednesday, after the scores were released by the state Department of Education. “This is a good indicator that we’re going to have a good year.”
The test is used to determine whether third-graders can advance to fourth grade and whether high school seniors can graduate.
Charlotte elementary schools earned a mean score of 4.0 out of 6.0 on the essay segment. The state average was 3.9. A total of 1,093 elementary students took the exam.
Myakka River Elementary recorded the biggest increase among Charlotte County elementary schools, as 90 percent of its students met or exceeded the state standard of 3.5. In 2006, the figure was 78 percent. A breakdown of individual school results is available at www.fldoe.org.
“It’s certainly a great start for Myakka Elementary,” said Principal Jeff Harvey. “We have a great staff here and strong community support, and that really helps.”
Charlotte’s middle schools had the highest mean score at 4.5 on the essay, compared to the state’s 4.1 average. The essay was administered to more than 1,400 middle school students.
The FCAT essays are comprised of expository, persuasive and narrative writing.
Students also received an FCAT writing scale score, ranging from 100 to 500, which is a combination of the essay and the multiplechoice items. This score was reported for the first time in 2006. The 2007 statewide average scale scores increased in grades four and 10 over last year’s scale scores, but dropped slightly for eighth-graders.
Port Charlotte Middle School earned high marks, as 92 percent met or surpassed state standards.
Principal Demetrius Revelas said writing was emphasized in many classes, to reinforce the concept that practice makes perfect.
“I thought the teachers and students were really well prepared for this,” he said. “We didn’t even discuss (the state score) of 3.5. It was 4.0 or higher.”
Tenth-grade students also beat the state average of 3.9 with a score of 4.2. The test was given to 1,457 high school students.
However, several schools didn’t exceed last year’s scores.
Peace River Elementary had a 20 percent decrease in the number of students who scored 3.5 or higher. According to the scores, 64 percent met or exceeded the standards.
“We will have time to reflect on the areas we need to improve on, but not today,” said Peace River Elementary Principal Bertie Alvarez. “We’re just celebrating the kids and their success. I’m very proud of our fourth-grade team.”
Gayler said he wasn’t concerned about the decreases, as every school experiences cycles.
“It’s impossible to have a straight line year after year,” Gayler said. “Overall, we did extremely well.”
Things were not so sunny for DeSoto County High School, where FCAT writing scores dropped to a threeyear low. Only 59 percent of 10th-graders performed at grade level, 20 percent below the state average.
Scores at DeSoto Middle School rose to a mean of 4.4 on the essay portion and averaged 299 all together. Ninety-one percent of eighth-graders scored a 3.5 or better, well above the state average.
Overall, Sarasota County students exceeded the state average and showed consistency or improvement at every grade level. The greatest improvement was in fourth grade, where the mean combined score increased from 316 to 326.
Staff writer Jon F. Sica and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
You can e-mail Jason Witz at email@example.com.