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FCAT results for Lee schools called ‘encouraging’

By Staff | May 29, 2009

The Department of Education released the 2009 scores for the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. The exam is the state’s main indicator for student achievement according to the Sunshine State Standards.
Scores were released Thursday for subject tests in math, reading and science, and students needed to earn a 3 out of 5 or higher to demonstrate competence.
“For the most part, we are seeing continuous improvement in almost all areas and that is what we are looking for,” said Dr. Richard Itzen, director of Accountability, Research and Continuous Improvement. “It goes up and down in certain areas, but we see significant improvement, especially in middle school reading.”
Scores in the middle grades — fourth through eighth — seemed to increase this year, while local high schools dropped or maintained their achievement levels from 2008.
Fourth-graders in Lee County appeared to possess the highest gains. The grade saw a 7 percent increase in reading and a 6 percent increase in math. Overall, 78 percent of fourth-graders passed reading and 75 percent in math.
Trafalgar Elementary had some of the highest achievements in Cape Coral — 90 percent in reading and 88 percent in math. Principal Marie Vetter said the school is always looking for continuous improvement.
“We are very pleased, obviously, our fourth-grade students scored at 90 percent in reading, and in math they went up 10 points to 88 percent,” she said.
Elementary schools recently adopted the Macmillan Reading Series. Vetter said teachers at Trafalgar are pleased with the new materials.
Itzen said the district would normally expect some difficulty with a new textbook adoption, but overall the students faired well.
“At our school we use a lot of cooperative learning strategies,” Vetter said. “We also teach FCAT strategies to the students so they know what to do.”
The school also increased its science scores from 35 percent to 58 percent, she said, due in part to the school opening a new science lab earlier this year.
The percent of Lee County 10th-graders earning a 3 or higher in reading dropped from 37 percent last year to 36 percent, while results for the math stayed the same at 66 percent.
High school students take the FCAT math and reading tests in 10th grade and the FCAT science exam in 11th. They must pass the exams in order to graduate.
Cape Coral High School had 46 percent of students pass the reading test — an 8 percent increase from 2008 — and 78 percent passed math, a 14 percent increase from last year.
Other local schools had some remarkable scores, including the city of Cape Coral Charter High School, which had 100 percent of its students pass the FCAT math.
District officials applauded the FCAT results.
“Students and teachers have been working very hard to increase achievement, and we continue to see the fruits of that labor,” said Dr. James Browder, Lee County superintendent. “These results are very encouraging, but we know there is more to do. We want every student to be succeeding at the highest levels.”
The released scores are for all Lee County students, regardless of whether they are new to the district, English Language Learners or coded as ESE. Many of those students will be removed from the calculus when the state grades the schools in July.
“When the schools are held accountable for the grading system, some students are removed from the calculation. The state recognizes if a student came to us this year from Mexico, for example, that they may not be able to score as well,” Itzen said.
The Lee County School District has a high student mobility rate making it sometimes difficult to instruct, he said. In 2008-09 the district enrolled 9,000 new students.
During the State of Our Schools breakfast earlier this month, Browder said the Lee County School District has a 40 percent mobility rate.
FCAT scores by student will be released to parents June 8.