Mostly, local students improve on FCAT

Students from Lawton Chiles Elementary cheer for their classmates during the annual Fifth-Grade Fun Day at Citizens Field on Tuesday. Here's more to cheer about: Lawton Chiles Elementary fourth-graders were tops locally in the FCAT math category with 82 percent earning a 3 or higher out of a possible 5.

Matt Stamey/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Friday, June 6, 2014 at 5:51 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, June 6, 2014 at 5:51 p.m.

Alachua County students did better than the state average in eight of 14 FCAT categories, according to results released Friday by the Florida Department of Education.

Statewide, Florida students made gains in 11 of the 14 categories, which cover reading in grades 4 to 10, math in grades 4 through 8 and science in grades 5 and 8.

"Our teachers and students work incredibly hard every day," Education Commissioner Pam Stewart said during a media conference call. "I'm confident that our students are being prepared every day and will continue to succeed" with the transition to the Florida Standards next year.

This was the last year of FCAT for Florida's 2.5 million public school students. Next year, they'll sit for tests based on the Florida Standards, which heavily features the Common Core State Standards.

In Alachua County, 56 percent of all Alachua County students in grades 3 through 8 passed the math test, the same rate as last year.

Fifty-seven percent of students grades 3 through 10 passed the reading test, a decrease of 1 percentage point from 2013.

Fifty-nine percent of fifth-graders and 51 percent of eighth graders in Alachua County passed the science exam. Local eighth-graders improved by 2 percentage points over last year and fifth-grade results stayed the same.

Lawton Chiles Elementary topped the fourth-grade math category with 82 percent of students earning a 3 or higher on the test, scored out of a possible 5. Wiles Elementary topped fifth-grade math with 81 percent of students passing.

Meadowbrook and Hidden Oak Elementary both had the highest passage rates for fourth-grade reading, at 77 percent.

Kanapaha Middle topped the district's reading and math scores, with pass rates in the mid-60s, and Buchholz High was the highest-performing high school, with 76 percent of freshmen and 71 percent of sophomores passing the reading exam.

Charter schools also fared well.

Micanopy Area Cooperative School saw 95 percent of its fourth-graders and 79 percent of its fifth-graders pass FCAT math and 82 percent of fourth-graders and 89 percent of fifth-graders pass reading.

Healthy Learning Academy averaged 88 percent of fourth-graders and 80 percent of fifth-graders passing the math exam while 82 percent of fourth-graders and 90 percent of fifth-graders passed reading.

Despite the high scores in parts of the district, Alachua County Public Schools is also home to some of the lowest-performing schools in North Florida.

Eighteen percent of Rawlings Elementary's fourth-graders and 19 percent of Lake Forest Elementary's fourth-graders passed the reading test.

Nineteen percent of Duval Elementary's fifth-graders passed the reading exam and 18 percent passed math.

At Shell Elementary, 21 percent of fifth-graders passed reading and 18 percent passed the math test.

Hawthorne Middle/High School's pass rates in reading ranged from 13 to 20 percent in math and 16 to 27 percent in reading.

Karen Clarke, assistant superintendent for curriculum, instructional services and student support, said incoming Superintendent Owen Roberts may have some ideas of his own, but the district has already set up some mitigating programs.

For example, Hawthorne Middle/High is moving to a block schedule next year, so students will get 90 minutes of math and reading each day.

The district also redirected some money to expand the summer reading camp to include fourth-graders. Previously, the camp was only for third-graders who scored a 1 on FCAT reading.

Teachers will undergo additional training through the University of Florida's Lastinger Center for Learning, and Clarke and her staff are taking a look at the data on each underperforming school to see what the schools need.

Clarke said the goal is to create a plan for each individual school based on its needs, rather than applying a blanket strategy.

"We're starting to take a deeper look right now," she said.

Contact Erin Jester at 338-3166 or

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