West Shore ranks among FCAT’s best

In the face of a standardized testing controversy that resulted in the lowering of FCAT proficiency scores, West Shore performances on the test topped the average test scores for Brevard Public Schools.

Initial FCAT test scores released last week showed that statewide 27 percent of fourth-graders, 33 percent of eighth-graders, and 38 percent of 10th-graders passed the FCAT Writes after the state implemented stricter grading; after the results were disclosed, the State Board of Education lowered the passing score to 3.0. Under the new scores, the pass rates are 81 percent, 78 percent and 84 percent respectively.

For West Shore, the percentage of sophomores who received a 3.5 or higher on the FCAT Writes was 98 and no sophomores received under a 3.0. The sophomore class average score was 4.1, with the Mean Development Score Scale of 273 on a score range of 188 to 302, edging out academic rival Edgewood High by two points. The freshman class received an MDSS of 268 on the FCAT Reading, the highest in Brevard. The percentage of eighth-graders who received at least a 3.5 on the FCAT Writes was 88 percent; of those who scored at least a 4.0, 71 percent. The eighth-grade average score was 4.0.

According to the Brevard County School Board, 33 percent of eighth-graders and 38 percent of 10th-graders received a passing score of 4.0 or higher on the FCAT writing portion, a decrease from last year’s scores on the 45-minute timed essay, where Brevard County’s percentages were 82 and 75 respectively.

The precipitous drop off in scores was largely due to tougher grading.

“They aren’t grading on drafts, they’re grading on perfection,” Griffin said. “Grammar and spelling were very precisely graded.”

Despite the change, middle-school language arts teacher Adrienne Gent called the FCAT scores reasonable.

“I thought the grades were pretty accurate,” she said. “The only problem I saw was when students received a 4.5. That means that one grader gave a 5, and one gave a 4. I think quite often he or she deserved a 5. The difficulty went up a little, but it wasn’t too hard.”

But Griffin said some students “don’t look into context” when they see their scores fall and are “crushed” because they received lower-than-expected grades.

“We all worked very hard, and the students all write extremely well,” Griffin said.” Students feel let down by their grade, and that’s what bothers me.”

Sophomore Jane Yang expressed her frustration with the scoring.

“You can’t change the standards of a standardized test after you administer it,” she said. “It’s dumb.”

Sophomore Sierra Purden voiced similar feelings.

“I feel like it wasn’t fair that they changed the grading, but I’m happy that our school wasn’t really affected by it,” she said.

Sophomore Sean Wilson concurred.

“I was surprised and excited to see that we still scored above average, event after the school board changed the grading,”  he said.

By Brandon Bailer, Tania Martin, Lindsay Gorham and Nora McSorley