Osceola School District under fire for FCAT scores



OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. - The Osceola County School District unveiled a plan Wednesday that officials believe will help increase FCAT scores.

The scores were so low this year, one board member made what some could consider a threat, Channel 9's Jorge Estevez reported.

School Board Chairman Jay Wheeler demanded change if the trend isn't reversed.

"(Superintendent Melba Luciano) and staff, I am bored," Wheeler said at the end of a presentation made to the school board Wednesday night.

As the superintendent presented the scores, Wheeler was quick to react.

"There is not a bone in my body that is satisfied with any of this," said Wheeler.

The most notable decreases in FCAT scores were among third-graders. Last year, 54 percent passed the reading section. This year, 53 percent passed the test.

Among fourth-graders, 56 percent passed the test this year as opposed to 59 percent last year.

As far as fifth-graders are concerned, 56 percent passed the reading portion versus 57 percent last year.

In the math portion, fourth-grade scores remained flat with just 49 percent of the students passing that part of the FCAT. Fifth-grade passing scores fell from 46 percent last year to 45 percent this year.

The passing scores for sixth-graders decreased from 45 percent to 43 percent.

Some board members questioned the pledge the district made earlier this year with Luciano, the district's new superintendent, to become the best FCAT-performing county in Florida.

"These results do not inspire confidence that we are on track to be the best school district in Florida," said Wheeler.

But to put the student population in Osceola County back on track, the district presented an improvement plan.

"We are looking at them, and we are making decisions and creating actions plans," said Luciano.

The plans include a new reading textbook that would integrate reading, writing and speaking skills, more monitoring of student performance and increasing the number of more intensive math classes.

Some board members are optimistic the plan will work.

"It is my expectation that as we have this conversation again next year, and it will look very differently," said school board member Tim Weisheyer.

Other members of the school board were not that optimistic.

"If this is repeated next year, this board has some serious decisions to make," said Wheeler.

However, there were some improvements in the higher grades, including a 4 percent increase in 10th-grade reading scores.

District officials said they expect to overcome their challenges and continue their climb to the top.