Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

St. Johns Top of Class; County's Students Lead on FCAT Reading Results; Duval Still Lags Behind State

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

St. Johns Top of Class; County's Students Lead on FCAT Reading Results; Duval Still Lags Behind State

Article excerpt

Byline: Teresa Stepzinski

St. Johns County ninth- and 10th-graders led the state in reading, according to the 2012 Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test results released Friday by the state.

St. Johns fourth-, eighth- and 10th-grade students ranked at the top of the state on the newly toughened FCAT writing exam, which has sparked controversy and consternation statewide because so many students did so poorly.

In Duval County, 48 percent of the ninth-graders met the reading standard as did 45 percent of the 10th-graders, with each showing improvement over last year. The state average for ninth-graders was 52 percent and for 10th-graders 50 percent.

"In the area of reading, although we have not caught up to the state, we have maintained pace with the growth that the state is experiencing," said Tim Ballentine, Duval's director of instructional research and accountability.

Florida students must meet a 3.0 or better to be considered proficient. In addition, 10th-graders must meet that threshold in order to graduate. The reading test was more rigorous this year than last.

State Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson told reporters that from a statewide standpoint, the numbers weren't ideal.

"Obviously, we're not pleased with where we are," Robinson said. "No one would be pleased with almost half of your students at that level not reading at proficiency, but it's important to keep in mind the growth we've been able to achieve."

Seventy-two percent of St. Johns ninth-graders met or exceeded the 3.0 reading proficiency threshold standard and 70 percent of the district's 10th-graders at least met the standard.

"It's all about great teachers, and I think we are very blessed in that area," St. Johns County Superintendent Joseph Joyner said.

Ninth-graders in Clay and Nassau counties both ranked eighth in the state in reading.

Nassau students showed the largest increase among First Coast 10th-graders, improving 19 percentage points in the number of students scoring at level 3 to 60 percent. They ranked sixth in the state.

The reading scores, however, were a lot better than the writing scores. …

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