Published: Jul 13, 2010 5:34 PM EDT
Updated: Jul 13, 2010 2:35 PM EDT

 LEE COUINTY, Fla - Lee County Public Schools is joining other large districts across the state in questioning the results of the latest FCAT exam.

Dr. James Browder, Superintendent of Schools says, “My staff and I have been talking with districts across Florida and we all have found some scoring inconsistencies. We continue to disaggregate the data to determine the level of these scoring abnormalities.”

Each year when the FCAT results are released there are “normal” fluctuations in student performance. This year, however, those fluctuations appear to be beyond the normal year-to-year differences.

These irregularities could have serious consequences when it comes to the grades earned by schools. The state’s school performance grading system includes student learning gains in reading and math, and these gains make up 50 percent of the total points earned on a school’s grade. If these learning gains are reflected incorrectly, a school would earn the wrong grade.

While Lee County Public Schools continues to review the FCAT results, Dr. Browder, along with FADSS, is requesting that the Florida Commissioner Eric Smith review the results as well in order to positively determine what may or may not have transpired in the grading of this year’s tests.

Superintendents of Broward, Miami-Dade, Hillsborough, Duval and Leon county schools sent a letter Monday to State Education Commissioner Eric Smith. They want the state to delay calculating annual school grades based on the test scores and for a committee of experts to review the data.

Smith said last month that test results were delayed this year because of problems in matching databases, not the quality of scoring. He said he was confident the scores were accurate.

Education Commissioner Smith issued this statement with regard to the FCAT results:

“Let me state first and foremost that I have the utmost confidence in the accuracy and reliability of the 2010 FCAT results. Multiple reviews by an independent testing expert, The Buros Institute, in addition to our own internal verification procedures, have all confirmed this fact. Taking into account my high level of confidence in the scoring process and the results, in addition to the fact that the lowest performing quartile of students are not scored separately from other students, it is my belief that the data these districts are highlighting is accurate. Our districts have done a tremendous job over the years in increasing the overall level of achievement in the lowest performing quartile of students and as expected, as that achievement rises, it becomes more difficult to reproduce that success year after year. This is the hurdle we are now facing and I am grateful that our school districts are concentrating their efforts and analysis on this extremely important group of students. With that said, I take the concerns from our school districts very seriously and as such I have sought out an additional independent third party reviewer to evaluate the statistical viability of this year’s results focusing specifically on this group of students. HumRRO (Human Resource Research Organization) has agreed to conduct this audit and we will publish the results as soon as they are available.”