FCAT Writing Scores' Steep Dip Prompts Concern

Educators have proposed reducing the FCAT writing passing score to increase passing rates. A discussion is scheduled for Tuesday morning.


Less than 30 percent of fourth graders in Florida passed the FCAT writing test this year, according to preliminary results released on Monday, as reported by the Tampa Bay Times today.

That's a steep dip compared to last year when 81 percent scored a passing 4.0 or better.

The plummeting scores have prompted extreme concern among educators and state officials. On Monday, Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson proposed reducing the FCAT writing passing score from 4.0 to 3.5. Under that standard, 48 percent of fourth-graders would have passed the test with a 3.5 or better, along with 52 percent of eighth-graders and 60 percent of 10th-graders, according to the Times story.

Florida education officials will hold an emergency conference call this morning at 10:30am regarding the scores. The public is invited to listen via phone by calling: 1 (866) 304-6786 and entering the conference ID of 815-966-41.

This year's test was more rigorous including more reductions given for misspellings and more stringent grading on punctuation and grammar.

Some say that may have contributed to the lower scores. Others, however, maintain the tougher evaluation is needed to prepare for Florida joining the coalition of states moving toward more rigorous standards, the Times reported.

What do you think? Take our poll to weigh in.

Kia Flowers May 16, 2012 at 12:25 AM
Spelling, grammar, and punctuation are ALWAYS important, even in the technology age. There are many nuances of the written language that the computer does not correct.
Sherri Lonon May 16, 2012 at 01:08 AM
Thanks everyone for the great comments! Do any of the teachers or parents out there feel like these skills have had less of a focus placed on them in recent years? I know, for example, spelling tests were not on the agenda at the elementary school my daughter attended. Poor grammar was also frequently glossed over in her reports (until they landed in my hands). Anyone else noticing these things? If so, any ideas as to why?
Carol Dell May 16, 2012 at 01:27 AM
The low writing scores don't stun me, but do upset me tremendously! Until renewed emphasis is placed on grammar, usage, punctuation, capitalization and spelling in the public schools, the students can't be expected to score well on writing assessments. Standards should not be lowered, but instead the schools should teach a curriculum that would enable the students to pass all the tests, including the writing ones. As a foot note, I think it is sad that today's elementary students are not proficient in cursive writing. Some students may have very limited instruction in cursive, but not to the level that they are able to read it........they can't read important documents such as the Declaration of Independence, or even letters from their grandparents. Carol Dell
Sherri Lonon May 16, 2012 at 11:56 AM
Carol you make an excellent point. Cursive is not taught in many public schools and that does block access to the ability to read our own country's source documents. Children who cannot read the originals will have to rely on reprints. Does this bother anyone?
chayask May 16, 2012 at 08:55 PM
I have two comments that might make a point in how important grammar and punctuation are: Grammar is the difference between knowing your s&*t and knowing you're s&*t. 'Let's eat Grandma!' or, 'Let's eat, Grandma!" These are two examples of what will not be caught by spell check and why we should not be relying on them. Students DO need to be taught grammar, punctuation, and spelling; they ARE important skills.


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