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Lee third-graders surpass state averages in FCAT

By Staff | May 22, 2009

Schools in Lee County may be struggling with financial problems due to budget shortfalls, but that has not hindered some students’ academic achievements.
The Florida Department of Education released the results of the third-grade FCAT reading and math tests Thursday. Lee County scores surpassed state averages in both subjects and showed a clear increase from three years ago.
“The third-grade results on this year’s FCAT show that we are on the right track academically,” said Superintendent James Browder. “This is great news, but we all know there’s much more to be done.”
Scores from the state include all students, including those enrolled in exception education programs and English language learners, and are used by the DOE to grade schools in the county.
Third-graders who receive a one on the FCAT reading are required to attend summer school for additional instruction and review.
The district reported that 81 percent of third-grade students earned a three or higher on FCAT math and 76 percent earned a three or higher on FCAT reading.
A grade higher than a three is considered passing.
Lee County’s percent of passing students in math increased by 7 percent since 2006 and decreased by one point since 2007, but overall results have shown an improvement throughout the district.
Students in the district performed higher than other large counties across Florida. Scores in Lee — the ninth largest district in the state — surpassed Collier, Hillsborough, Palm Beach and Polk counties.
“We are pleased, with the math especially, we were very pleased with that,” said Dr. Richard Itzen, director of Accountability, Testing and Continuous Improvement. “The math standards for the state level are in transition and our curriculum department has done a lot of work to update academic plans or pacing guides.”
Itzen said the state is reducing the number of math standards so students can gain a more in-depth understanding of mathematical concepts. After the revisions, elementary math programs will be on an even keel.
“We feel we are all on the same page in terms of elementary math,” he said.
Itzen said the district is pleased to be above the state average in reading, even with the challenges of having a student population that is diverse and transient.
Cape Coral schools exceeded the state average by as much as 10 percent in some cases.
Eighty-seven percent of students passed reading and 88 percent passed math at Gulf Elementary, for example, while Cape Elementary had 85 percent pass reading and 91 percent pass math.
Oasis Charter Elementary, a K-5 school operated by the city of Cape Coral Charter School Authority, scored higher in both tests than any other elementary school in the city. It had 92 percent pass the reading and 94 percent pass math.
David Christopher, a Cape charter school teacher and winner of the first-ever Lighthouse Award, said there are a lot of skilled teachers in the system.
“Some elementary scores are in the 90th percentile,” he said. “Some are the top scores in the county.”