More about the 2008 science FCAT

I’ve received a few e-mails in response to my earlier post about 2008 science FCAT results. One person suggested that we take a look at those counties with school boards that passed formal resolutions against the teaching of evolution. Below is each of those county’s 2008 Level 3 and above (on grade level and better) percentages per grade, with the 2007 results in paranthesises for comparison. This is by no means an attempt at a detailed analysis. The student populations vary from county to county quite a bit. And I’m sure there are other factors to consider.

Some counties look fine. Clay, Nassau, St. Johns counties are kicking butt. But there are some eye-popping bad things going on, too. What is the deal with Hamilton county? They were awful last year and did even worse this year. Madison county doesn’t look much better. The performance of Taylor and Washington 5th graders plummeted. Both 11th and 5th graders in Jackson county are hurting.

11th: 38(37), 8th: 40(38), 5th: 43(42)

11th: 32(38), 8th: 39(38), 5th: 34(37)

11th: 38(40), 8th: 44(42), 5th: 44(44)

11th: 43(41), 8th: 45(44), 5th: 55(51)

11th: 10(11), 8th: 19(28), 5th: 26(29)

11th: 38(33), 8th: 37(30), 5th: 42(31)

11th: 29(35), 8th: 37(33), 5th: 37(42)

11th: 30(27), 8th: 29(30), 5th: 36(37)

11th: 20(26), 8th: 20(14), 5th: 23(23)

11th: 35(37), 8th: 45(42), 5th: 50(51)

11th: 32(30), 8th: 30(31), 5th: 35(34)

St. Johns:
11th: 54(56), 8th: 55(58), 5th: 55(58)

11th: 29(25), 8th: 33(37), 5th: 26(48)

11th: 37(38), 8th: 32(36), 5th: 27(40)

Another person e-mailed me to point out that science scores aren’t going to make many leaps forward unless the same effort that was pumped into reading education in the past is pumped into science education now. Last year, the Miami Herald’s columnist Fred Grimm wrote about how the science FCAT sank oodles of schools’ grades. Gerry Meisels, University of South Florida professor of chemistry and director of the Coalition for Science Literacy, was featured in that column as a driving force behind getting science FCATs to matter. Besides Meisels’ Coalition, there is also the Florida Center for Research on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (FCR-STEM) led by Nobel Prize in Chemistry winner Dr. Harold Kroto, a professor in the FSU Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. There is also Florida PROMiSE, and, of course, we here at Florida Citizens for Science. So, there is no shortage of organizations and people interested in making science education in Florida a priority. Unfortunately, it takes more than that. It takes money. It takes politicians focsing attention on the problems. Combine money woes and politicians in bad economic times and you get … nothing.

What are some problems? The e-mailer told me: “Of course, the difficulty of improving science education is compounded by the fact that while nearly all teachers can read, an alarmingly large number of science teachers do not have a deep understanding of their subjects.” Not only do we need to educate the students, but we also need to educate the teachers.

About Brandon Haught

Communications Director for Florida Citizens for Science.
This entry was posted in FCAT. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to More about the 2008 science FCAT

  1. RM says:

    I took the counties listed by Brandon and sorted them after percentage
    of population under 18 below poverty line, which I found in Wikipedia.
    To each I have then added the FCAT 11th grade score. I get the following
    results starting with the least poor county

    Clay 8.90 43
    St. Johns 9.30 54
    Nassau 10.90 35
    Taylor 22.20 29
    Baker 22.20 32
    Jackson 23.70 29
    Lafayette 23.70 30
    Holmes 25.70 38
    Washington 26.90 37
    Madison 30.10 20
    Putnam 30.60 32
    Hamilton 35.70 10

    The relation between poverty and bad grades is striking but there
    are exceptions. Madison, Putnam and Hamilton have the greatest
    percentage of poor kids, but those from Putnam do much better in
    school than those from Madison which are poor to the same percentage.

    There are other criteria in Wikipedia that one could use for sorting.
    The median family income gives the correct order for the 11th grade
    scores for the three poorest counties in Brandon’s list but I don’t have
    the time to find out whether this is a better criterion for school success.

    There are probably other factors which follow the same trend. How
    strong is the correlation between teacher qualifications on the one hand
    and county poverty and school success, respectively, on the other?

  2. S.Scott says:

    St. Johns County represents! 🙂 And don’t we have a certain Clay County science teacher in our midst? 🙂

  3. MaryB says:

    Putnam county pays its teachers better than surrounding counties (including my own county Marion). They also are home to Joe Pickens the now retired head of the k-12 education committee, whose wife is a teacher and whose name, along with rep Hayes, was on the major revisions made to our own academic freedom bill in the house resulting in its demise because it could not be reconciled with the “Storms version” in the Senate. 😉

Comments are closed.