Published: May 05, 2011 6:40 PM EDT
Updated: May 05, 2011 3:40 PM EDT

TALLAHASSEE - The 2011 FCAT Writing results are out and the percentage of students scoring 4 or higher increased in all tested grade levels, with 4th, 8th, and 10th graders experiencing historic highs compared to previous years.

On May 17th, the State Board of Education will consider the revision of grading criteria to reward schools for the percent of students scoring at or above 4, rather than 3.5 as it has been since 2005. If approved by the Board, a score of 4 would be the standard used beginning this school year in the grading of schools.    

“Our educators continue to rise to the occasion, answering the call of increased expectations for our students to ensure they are leaving school ready for the next step,” said Florida Education Commissioner Dr. Eric J. Smith. “I am very proud of our teachers and students. Every time the state raises its expectations for student achievement, the talent and skill of our teachers, combined with the ability of our children, leads to success. Our students that scored proficient or above in writing have achieved a skill level that will serve them well in school and in work.”

The latest release of writing results indicates 81 percent of students in grade 4, 82 percent of students in grade 8, and 75 percent of students in grade 10 scored at or above a 4 on the six-point grading scale. This compares with previous highs of 73 percent in grade 4 (2009), 80 percent in grade 8 (2009), and 72 percent in grade 10 (2010) scoring 4 or higher on the writing exam. Additionally, the results show that the average essay score increased to 4.0 in grade 4, 4.2 in grade 8, and 4.0 in grade 10.

These results continue a trend also seen in Florida’s performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Writing assessment, where there have been continuous increases in the state’s eighth grade writing performance. Between 1998 and 2007, the most recent year for which NAEP Writing results are available, Florida’s eighth grade performance on the national writing exam increased by 17 percentage points for students scoring at or above the Proficient level, with only four states scoring better than the Sunshine State. A score of Proficient on NAEP is comparable to a score of 5 on the FCAT Writing assessment. Selected Florida students in eighth and twelfth grade also participated in the first computer-based NAEP Writing assessment earlier this year.

Individual student score reports for FCAT Writing are expected to be mailed to districts for receipt by Thursday, May 12. Districts and schools can use their secure login and password provided by the Department to access electronic copies of their reports today.

For information on the FCAT Writing program, visit http://www.fldoe.org/asp/fw/. To view school, district and state FCAT Writing reports, visit http://fcat.fldoe.org/results/default.asp