Students statewide improve FCAT writing scores

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -  The Florida Department of Education announced the results of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test 2.0 on Friday and said statewide, students made gains in writing scores.

Students in grades four, eight and 10 were tested on writing skills.

The department said, in a press release, that 58 percent of those students scored at 3.5 and higher, a jump of 4 percent from the 2012 scores.

Orange County fourth-grade students had an 11 percentage point increase in writing scores.

In a statement, Gov. Rick Scott said, "Today's report that student performance is improving lends further credence to why it was so important we provide teachers throughout Florida with a pay raise."

Third-grade students were tested on reading and mathematics.

The department said overall, the students improved slightly on the reading portion of the test and stayed at the same level on mathematics.

Lake Como Elementary is one of this year's FCAT success stories.

Almost twice as many third graders hit their reading benchmark this year as they did two years ago. Their math scores had a healthy 9 percent bump.

"It was intense. It was intense intervention, a lot of conversations about what's working and what's not," said Lake Como Elementary Principal Carmen Carrosco-Thompson.

Last year was the first time Florida students took the more difficult version of the FCAT.

Statewide, a whopping 73 percent didn't pass the writing portion until the benchmark was lowered.

The chancellor of public schools for the FDE, Pam Stewart, said that caught people off-guard.

"We spent a number of years scoring in one way and then we changed that scoring," Stewart said.

Around the state this year the average success rates held steady in third-grade reading and math at around 56 and 58 percent.

Fifty-eight percent of Orange County third-graders hit the reading goal and 68 percent did in math.

Seminole County was well over the state's average, with 70 percent in reading and 69 percent in math.

Both counties' writing scores improved a bit as well.

Not all schools had the same success as Lake Como.

Education Commissioner Tony Bennett said Friday some school grades could still be dropping.

"Because the bar was raised it very well could have the impact of lowering school grades, and we anticipate that," Bennett said.

Bennett said numbers don't always reflect efforts, but the education commission will celebrate success.

Grades still have to come out for grades four through 10 in reading, math and science.

The Department of Education hasn't said when that will be.

Schools won't get their grades until all the scores are released.

See the result from your school district:  2013 Florida Statewide Assessment Scores