The first round of scores from this year’s Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) was released last Friday and while Gulf District Schools could point to some bang-up work among third-graders, the writing scores highlighted challenges.


The first round of scores from this year’s Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) was released last Friday and while Gulf District Schools could point to some bang-up work among third-graders, the writing scores highlighted challenges.



“The writing is a bit off this year,” said Sara Joe Wooten, Deputy Superintendent for Instruction. “We have not had a chance to really dig down and look at all the numbers, but we have some things we will need to address.”



The FCAT writing component is administered to fourth-, eighth- and 10th-graders. In fourth grade, students write in a narrative style; eighth-graders a persuasive essay; and in 10th-grade an expository essay.



“The emphasis the past two years has been on enhancement, putting down thoughts,” Wooten said. “IT is more how you put down thoughts and more mature writing.”



District eighth-graders performed the best when compared to the state average and those students who graded out at least 3.5 or above on a scale that rises from 1 to 6.



At Wewahitchka Jr./Sr. High School, the average score was a 3.2, compared to the state’s 3.3. At Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School, the average score was a 3.7.



In Port St. Joe 90 percent of eighth-graders scored a 3 or above, 72 a 3.5 or above and 47 percent scored a 4 or above.



The state averages were 79 percent, 54 percent and 35 percent, respectively.



In Wewahitchka, 78 percent of eighth-graders were scored 3 or above; 51 percent 3.5 or above and 35 percent at least a 4.



Sophomores at both Junior-Senior High Schools fell below the state mean score of 3.5, with Wewahitchka averaging a 2.8 and Port St. Joe a 3.2.



The state average of students scoring 3 or above was 85 percent – in Wewahitchka it was 58 percent and Port St. Joe 76 percent.



The state average of students scoring 3.5 or above was 62 percent – in Port St. Joe it was 51 percent, in Wewahitchka 32 percent.



At Wewahitchka 14 percent of 10th-graders scored 4 or above; at Port St. Joe the percentage was 23 percent compared to the state average of 40 percent.



And among fourth-graders, the trends were similar to 10th-graders.



Both Wewahitchka Elementary School (3.2) and Port St. Joe Elementary School (3.1) fell below the state average score of 3.4.



Eighty-three percent of fourth-graders statewide score 3 or above; in Wewahitchka it was 77 percent and 71 percent in Port St. Joe.



Among fourth-graders around the state, 77 percent scored 3.5 or above; in Wewahitchka it was 47 percent and in Port St. Joe 42 percent.



The state percentage of fourth-graders scoring 4 or above was 37 percent; seven percentage points higher than in Wewahitchka and 11 percentage points higher than in Port St. Joe.



“We are going to have to look at every aspect of these scores before deciding a course of action,” Wooten said. “For example, among 10th-graders, we will go back and look at how they scored as eighth-graders. We have challenges; we just need to have a clearer picture of where they are.”



Also released last week were reading and math scores for third-graders. They are critical in whether a student is held back a grade level.



Wewahitchka Elementary finished with an average score of 204 in reading and 205 in math. In both categories, the state average district score was 201.



“Wewahitchka really slammed it in both reading and math,” Wooten said.



Port St. Joe Elementary had an average score of 200 in math and 198 in reading.