2009 Science FCAT

Science FCAT scores are out. The bottom line: fifth and eighth graders had gains, but they’re small; whereas 11th-graders dropped a bit.

Fifth graders have been slowly making gains over the years, which is, of course, what everyone wants to see. According to this sheet (pdf), they went from 43% of all fifth graders passing at level three or higher last year to 46% passing. But, as I’ve mentioned in years past, that still means a dismal 54% are not passing.

Eighth graders also are still on an upward trend, with a one percent gain from 40% last year to 41% this year.

Before I go any further, I want to quote here what each of the five achievement levels are on the FCAT:

Level 5– This student has success with the most challenging content of the Sunshine State Standards. A student scoring in Level 5 answers most of the test questions correctly, including the most challenging questions.
Level 4 — This student has success with the challenging content of the Sunshine State Standards. A student scoring in Level 4 answers most of the test questions correctly, but may have only some success with questions that reflect the most challenging content.
Level 3 — This student has partial success with the challenging content of the Sunshine State Standards, but performance is inconsistent. A student scoring in Level 3 answers many of the test questions correctly but is generally less successful with questions that are the most challenging.
Level 2 — This student has limited success with the challenging content of the Sunshine State Standards.
Level 1 — This student has little success with the challenging content of the Sunshine State Standards.

Now take a look at the achievement level spread on the fifth grade mathematics FCAT:
2009 1st:14 2nd:24 3rd:26 4th:27 5th:9

Then take a look at the achievement level spread on the fifth grade reading FCAT:
2009 1st:14 2nd:14 3rd:34 4th:29 5th:8

What stands out to me is the nice split between the 3rd and 4th levels. Plenty of students are up to the challenge of the 4th level in those subjects. Now compare those to the science FCAT spread in fifth grade:
2009 1st:21 2nd:32 3rd:34 4th:10 5th:2

Not many students are making it to the 4th or 5th levels in science in any of the grades in any of the years. That’s a very ugly fact deserving of some attention.

Now let’s move on to the bad news: 11th-graders. They dipped a percentage point from 38% last year to 37% this year. Keep in mind that means a full 63% of 11th graders apparently have “limited” or “little success” with the material. I welcome your thoughts on this in the comments.

About Brandon Haught

Communications Director for Florida Citizens for Science.
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4 Responses to 2009 Science FCAT

  1. kmlise says:

    thanks Brandon. The 63% is really an ouch! Our school was a little above average at 47 for elementary and 46 for MS (we are k-8). Our scores for MS are like last year 3rd in our district just below the science magnet (47) and the downtown school in the wealthy part of Ocala with lots of kids of professionals(61).

    But with our title I population we will still not make AYP and are headed for reorganization next year. Too many minority groups that score low (and all it takes is one).

    It is hard to tell what these scores reflect. Some of it is definitely lack of science knowledge. Some of it may reflect lack of reading skills as those are required to navigate the test successfully.

    A few realities: It is a relatively new test and scores tend to go up as the system and the students accommodate themselves to it.

    Most of the students in Middle School know that this test, which is given on the last FCAT testing day, does not count for them individually and may not care that it counts for their school, while math and reading do count towards their own personal promotion and towards what programs they get put into in the next year. There are intensive reading and math programs that pull kids who score 1 or 2 on the FCAT out of PE and vocational classes – sometimes these least motivated academically kids have only academics all day! So there is a motivation issue as well for performing well on this test.

  2. science teacher says:

    I totally agree with motivation being the biggest factor. I am a high school science teacher and no matter how much we prepare these students, they don’t take the test seriously. Many of them are absent on the day of the science exam because they know that it doesn’t count towards graduation. The students that earn 3’s or higher were already going to earn that regardless of preparation or studied hard. Most of these students are level 1 or 2 readers. For example, at my school 83% of the 10th graders were level 1 or 2. With the science test being mostly reading/comprehension and knowledge of facts, it would only be right if the reading and science scores were very close statistically. I’d like to know how the the raw scores are computed?????

  3. kmlise says:

    I think the scores ar pretty simple. The numbers you see like our 47 are the percent of kids that score a level 3 and above. The levels are just how many points you score total on the test with cut score ranges set for each level 1 – 5.

    We talked to our principal today and even though we made big gains at every grade level and subject and improved our scores by 74% overall and have scores way above the state average, we will not make AYP and so are a “failed school” according to NCLB but will probably be and “A school” according to the state of Florida. Go Figure! The reality is that I am lucky to work at a fantastic school with highly professional staff who are like a family and who do their very best for the great kids we teach. 😉

  4. mark says:

    Umm on mah unofficial report on fcat math i got a 5

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