Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

New Test Scores among Lowest; Vitti: Similar Results on Harder Exams Positive

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

New Test Scores among Lowest; Vitti: Similar Results on Harder Exams Positive

Article excerpt

Byline: Denise Smith Amos

More than half the Duval students who took Florida's new English Language Arts exam for 10th-graders failed it, according to state testing data released Friday.

And Duval's passing rates for the new Algebra 1 exam were among the lowest in the state.

Both exams are part of Florida's new, tougher assessments, based on college-ready academic standards. Middle school and high school students took the algebra test and mostly sophomores took the English exam in spring.

Preliminary scores for the new Florida Standards Assessments and new end-of-course exams are not official, because the tests are under review by an outside group to verify their validity and because state officials haven't officially selected the scores that measure achievement levels, called cut scores.

Nevertheless, state officials released the passing percentages for schools and districts for the two exams because students need to pass both to be eligible to graduate. Most students who fail will need to retake them.

In Northeast Florida, 48 percent of Duval's test-takers passed the English assessment, the same as last year, even though this year's test is considered by many to be harder. Compared to the other Big Seven districts in the state, Duval had the lowest passage rate, while the other big districts ranged between 52 and 57 percent.

Duval Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said, that considering it's a harder test, with more writing and informational texts, he's satisfied that this year's performance is similar to last year's.

"To break even is really a step in the right direction," he said.

"We now know what the new standards and tests look like and we look forward to raising student achievement next year with a year of significant change behind us. I believe our reforms over the last two years have created the conditions for that improvement."

Elsewhere in the region, English passing rates hovered around 50 percent to 60 percent. …

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