BRADENTON -- FCAT scores released by the Florida Department of Education show that less than half of 3rd graders at Manatee County Schools are performing at grade level for reading or math. The county finished 8 percent lower than the statewide average of 57 percent of 3rd grade students at grade level for the two subjects. 4th, 8th and 10th grade students who must take writing exams were also below statewide levels.
Possible scores range from 1 to 5, with 3 or higher considered at grade level. Students who score a 1 are likely to be held back. While scores are somewhat reflective of changes to the test, state education officials say the revised standards are necessary to make sure students graduate ready to attend college or enter the workforce.
In writing, where standards were also tweaked upward, Manatee only averaged a 3.2 out ouf 6 (3.5 is considered proficient). Only 51 percent of Manatee sophomores received a passing score, down from 54 percent.
Several individual schools excelled in the 3rd grade results. Anna Maria Elementary topped all Manatee District schools in both reading and math with 86 percent of its students scoring Level 3 or above in reading and 80 percent of its third graders scoring at Level 3 or above in mathematics.
Willis and Williams Elementary also scored impressively. Both had 70 percent at 3rd grade level in reading. In math, Williams Elementary had 70 percent score Level 3 or above and Willis Elementary had 69 percent score Level 3 or above. Palmetto Charter had 78 percent at or above grade level in reading and 66 percent in Math. McNeal Elementary also had 70 percent at grade level in reading and had the highest 4th grade writing scores in the district at an average of 3.9.
On the low end, Palm View Elementary had a mere 28 percent of 3rd graders at grade level for math, while Ballard Elementary had only 32 and both Oneco and Myakka City both had 33 percent. In reading, six Manatee County schools scored 30 percent at grade level of lower (Palmetto 30%; James Tillman 30%; Manatee 28%; Samoset 27%; G.D. Rodgers 25%; Team Success 24%).
“We do have some bright stars, but I know Manatee County has the ability to have many more bright stars,” said newly-hired Deputy Superintendent of Instruction Dr. Diana Greene, in a release. “Now begins our work. We now have a baseline and we will develop an action plan to address this for the next school year and have a pathway to fill the sky up with bright lights.”
Marion County, for whom Greene had previously served in the same position, outscored Manatee in both 3rd grade categories, despite having a greater percentage of disadvantaged students. The FCAT will be replaced in 2015, though the state has not yet decided on a new standardized test.
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