Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FCAT Flags Kids in Need of Help; 100 Third-Graders Face Hurdle to Pass

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FCAT Flags Kids in Need of Help; 100 Third-Graders Face Hurdle to Pass

Article excerpt

Byline: Caren Burmeister and Lisa Woods, Shorelines staff writers

About 100 Beaches third-graders, including six in Ponte Vedra Beach, must attend a summer reading camp or prove they can read at their grade level because they failed the reading portion of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.

And 21 seniors at Fletcher and Nease high schools will graduate with their classmates this month but may not receive diplomas unless they pass the FCAT in June.

This is the first year third- and 12th-graders took the test, and it will be the first year for summer reading camps to help poor readers move up to fourth grade.

Legislation that went into effect last year says third-graders who fail the FCAT reading test will have to repeat that grade if they don't demonstrate in some other way that they can read on a higher level.

FCAT scores, released this week, showed that all Beaches third-graders except those at Finegan Elementary did better than the Duval County average on the reading and math tests. The scores also showed all Beaches fourth-graders, excluding those at Finegan and Mayport elementary schools, exceeded the county average on their writing tests.

Jacksonville Beach Elementary, an academic magnet school, got the best fourth-grade writing score in Duval County, with 99 percent of the students receiving satisfactory scores.

The Florida Department of Education released the scores early so school officials and parents could make plans, such as summer school or remedial classes, for students who may be held back a year or not graduate because of low scores.

"Since there are such high stakes for them, we wanted to make sure that we got the scores back early," said Frances Marine, press secretary for the state Department of Education. "We have measures in place so if they are in the third grade they can catch up to the other students or if they are 12th-graders they can graduate."

Beaches third-graders who failed the reading test must attend a three-week reading summer camp at Seabreeze Elementary School, which will run four hours a day, five days a week from June 2 to 20.

Six third-graders from Ponte Vedra Beach who failed the reading test will attend a reading summer camp or work with their teacher to prove they can read on a third-grade level.

All students who failed the test will have to take another reading test at the end of the summer.

Special education students who failed are exempt from repeating third grade because of their test scores.

Seabreeze Elementary Principal Bill Dutter was pleased to learn his third-graders ranked in the top five schools in Duval County for math scores and the top seven in reading scores.

"For our first year out, I'm pretty pleased," Dutter said.

Rawlings Principal Pherbia Engdahl, whose students ranked the best in St. Johns County for reading and math, said she was elated with the results and is confident students who failed will catch up through the summer reading program. …

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