Increase FSA passing standards?

Senate bill SB 926 contains a phrase that changes the name of the level 3 on the FSA from ‘satisfactory’ to ‘proficient’.  What does that mean?  Amendment # 351834 was filed to find out.

It asks the Commissioner of Education to study achievement levels and their relationship to student performance and success.  The Commissioner is charged to recommend changes in the meaning of the achievement levels to the Governor and the Speaker, the President of the Senate and the State Board of Education by July 2018.

This is the procedure that is required in existing law to change performance standards on the FSA.  It has been tried before.  What would the approximate impact be?


If the standard to be used is the proficiency level on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (N.A.E.P.), the drop in passing rates is dramatic.  In a review of the impact of the impact of changing from the FCAT to the FSA in 2013, I did a comparison of the percent passing the FSA who would pass each level of NAEP.  Fifty four percent of students were projected to pass with a 3 on the FSA in grade four.  Passing would drop from 54% to 39% at the equivalent of a NAEP proficient level.  Math passing would likely drop from 59% passing to 41% at the NAEP proficient level.  The drops in grade eight are even more alarming.

The numbers below can only be an estimate of the impact today.  Is there some necessity to increase the difficulty of the FSA?  Are so many students passing that the standard has become meaningless?  In 2015, 54% of fourth grade students achieved a level three on the FSA.  Will failing more students make them work harder to achieve?  It reminds me of Sisyphus trying to push that big rock uphill only to have it keep rolling back.

Table 1:  Comparison of FCAT/FSA achievement at or above 2013 NAEP proficiency levels

FSA/FCAT Level 3+ NAEP Basic NAEP Proficient NAEP Advanced
Grade 4 ELA 54%/60% 75% 39% 9%
Grade 4 Math 59%/61% 84% 41% 6%
Grade 8 ELA 59%/56% 77% 33% 3%
Grade 8 Math 49%/51% 70% 31% 7%
Posted in Achievement, Florida, Florida Senate, Legislation, Public Education, Testing, Uncategorized.

One Comment

  1. Could be even worse: currently they call Level 4 “proficient” (since a change in 2015 from the previous language of “above satisfactory”). If that proficiency language is shifted to Level 3 with corresponding cut scores, the passing rate in your example would be only 27% for 4th grade reading FSA.

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