MANATEE -- At least 293 local high school seniors were readministered the reading and math portions of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test this school year in the hopes that they would pass and be able to graduate.
But only 14 percent passed the reading test and only 22 percent passed the math test, according to retake scores released Thursday from the Florida Department of Education.
“As 12th-graders, this is the fourth time they’ve taken the retake,” said John Pertner, the Manatee school district’s supervisor of testing and data management. “They can come back and take the test every time it’s offered.”
Students who did not pass will not be able to walk for graduation, according to school district officials.
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“Our goal is to have our students pass that test by 10th grade,” said Lynn Gillman, Manatee schools executive director of academics.
Out of 314 students from all grade levels who were administered the math FCAT, 90 passed. Only 183 students of the 962 students retaking the reading test passed.
“It has been our experience that math is usually easier to pass,” Gillman said, noting that reading represents more of a problem for students.
“They may look at that long passage and say ‘No way can I read this,’ ” Gillman said.
She said teachers try to teach students endurance in reading. Teachers also try to emphasize reading strategies to help students prepare for the test, and they focus on vocabulary.
Gillman and Pertner pointed out that there were some standouts among the testers. Forty percent of the students who took the math portion of the test at Southeast High School passed. That example will offer some clues of what other schools can do to pass the FCAT math in the future.
Manatee County’s high school seniors who took the reading FCAT scored one percentage point below the state average. Out of the 293 students assessed, 14 percent earned a score high enough to meet the graduation requirement. Statewide, 22,336 seniors took the FCAT retake reading and 15 percent earned a passing reading score.
In math, Manatee County’s 12th-graders scored higher than the state average on the retake test. More than 7,000 seniors took the test statewide and 21 percent passed. In Manatee County, 63 seniors took the test and 22 percent passed.
Students must pass the reading and math portions of the FCAT to graduate from high school. Gillman said there are some alternatives.
Students taking the college entrance exams known as the ACT or SAT could score high enough to be able to graduate from high school.