MANATEE COUNTY -- At least two schools in Manatee County’s school district are celebrating the results from the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test released Monday.
State College of Florida Collegiate and Witt Elementary schools stood out among others that were mired in FCAT results that lagged below the state averages.
“I think it’s a great day for the State College of Florida Collegiate School,” SCF President Lars Hafner said Monday afternoon. “We have a model of education that’s working.”
Two high schools -- Lakewood Ranch High and Manatee High -- exceeded state averages in reading, math and science, along with Manatee School for the Arts, which is grades 6-12. Several other schools, including Anna Maria Elementary and Braden River Middle, exceeded state averages but did not increase their test results from 2010.
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The state’s Department of Education released reading test results for fourth- through 10th-graders. Fifth-, eighth- and 11th-grade science results were released, as well as the fourth- through eighth- and 10th-grade math results. Nearly 200,000 students were administered the three tests statewide in 2011. More than 3,000 students took the tests in Manatee County.
This year’s FCAT was based on more rigorous curriculum standards adopted by the State Board of Education about two years ago. Scoring Level 3 is considered to be on grade level or proficient in the subject area. The district’s averages for students who scored level 3 in reading, math and science paled in comparison to the state averages. Each of the district’s averages were at least 2 to 3 percentage points below the state average. The county’s fourth-grade reading average, for example, was 66 percent scoring at level 3 or above. In comparison, the state’s fourth-grade reading average was 71 percent.
Louis Robison, executive director of school improvement and accountability, said there were a few areas where students showed improvements. In science, the percentage of students in Manatee County scoring at grade level or above in eighth grade rose 6 percentage points, from 38 percent to 44 percent. In math, the percentage of seventh-grade students in the district scoring at grade level or above increased from 54 percent in 2010 to 59 percent in 2011.
“We are always striving to improve as a school district, so it is pleasing to see that in the majority of areas tested, Manatee District students continue to show improvements,” Robison said by news release. “We will fully analyze these results and use them to help us continue to raise student scores across the district.”
Witt Elementary School is one of the biggest success stories, with its students exceeding state averages and outperforming last year’s results. In reading, 91 percent of the fourth-graders averaged a score of level 3 or higher at Witt Elementary. The state average for that grade level is 71 percent and Manatee County’s average is 25 percentage points lower. In math, 87 percent of the fourth-graders scored level 3 or higher. The state average is 74 percent with Manatee County’s average at 67 percent. Witt Elementary School Principal Myra Russell credits her teachers for the test results.
“We have a very dedicated group of teachers at Witt,” Russell said. “Failure’s not an option for them. They always pull together.”
Education Commissioner Eric Smith announced that the test results throughout the state were essentially the same as last year.
“My congratulations go out to our teachers and school administrators who worked tirelessly this year to raise the achievement of our students and better prepare them for future success,” Smith said by news release. “Because of their efforts, the transition to more demanding assessments has been nearly seamless.”
The State College of Florida Collegiate School is in its first year of operation with sixth- and seventh-graders. The two grade levels exceeded state averages in reading and math. In reading, sixth-graders at SCFCS averaged 85 percent scoring level 3 or higher, compared to the state’s 67 percent and Manatee County’s 63 percent. In math, sixth-graders averaged 72 percent scoring level 3 or higher. The state average in reading is 57 percent and Manatee County’s is 48 percent.
Hafner says the students’ success on the FCAT comes from the school “instilling a going to college mind set.”
“These scores are a testimony to teacher dedication, parental involvement and student empowerment,” said Kelly Monod, SCFCS’s head of school.