Proposed FSA Cut Scores, Passing Rates Released

dmbtestAlmost all is known about the FSA results except who passed and who failed.  Actually, students who should be placed in remediation have been identified.  Releasing the final results must await the approval from the State Board of Education.  Estimated passing rates are reported.

How well would Florida students do?

Roughly half of Florida’s students reached proposed FSA proficiency standards which is roughly what one would expect based on FCAT 2.0 results.  In a report released by the Florida Department of Education on the standard setting process, the DOE anticipated that the FSA passing rates for the English Language Arts test would be approximately five percent lower than for the 2014 FCAT 2.0.  Passing rates were more similar for elementary mathematics, but Algebra I and Geometry FSA passing rates would likely be between five and nine percent lower.

Nothing is really said about how comparable Florida’s results are to those in other states.  We do know that Florida’s 2013 student achievement in reading and mathematics was close to the national average based on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).  Florida’s grade 4 math was the same as the national average; grade 8 math was lower.   Grade 4 reading scores were higher than nation’s average, and grade 8 was the same.  Florida’s third grade retention policy may account for higher fourth grade NAEP scores since most states do not retain their third graders based on test scores.

Florida FSA scores may decline less than in other states.  Their state assessments may have been more difficult and/or the passing scores may have been set at a higher level.  We can make rough estimates of how rigorous Florida standards are by comparing the percentage of students meeting proficiency on the FCAT/FSA and NAEP.  Remember that NAEP proficiency is a high standard.

If states set scores at NAEP proficiency, relatively few students would be successful.  NAEP scores are reported in four categories:  below basic; basic, proficient, and advanced.  A score in the ‘basic’ range represents partial mastery of the required knowledge and skills in the subject.  A student who is deemed ‘proficient’ has solid master of challenging subject matter and is able to analyze content and relate the skills to real world situations.  The ‘advanced’ level is reserved for exceptional achievement.

The Florida DOE released a comparison of 2013 FCAT and projected FSA proficiency levels.  The NAEP comparisons suggest that Florida’s passing standards are higher than the NAEP basic level but lower than the NAEP proficiency level.  In  the  table below, for example,  sixty percent of grade 4 students passed the 2013 FCAT reading and 56% are projected to pass the FSA.  It would appear that an FCAT 2.0 level of 4 on the grade four ELA would be similar to a NAEP proficiency level.

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%

These data are approximate.  FSA final results are not released.  We already know that Florida students achievement is at the NAEP national average.  The FSA results do not add much more state level information.  NAEP, however, does not test every student, so the FSA does provide scores to parents and schools.  Other nationally administered tests also provide student scores.  They are less expensive and help parents understand how their children compare with others.  The FSA is used to drive change in education by grading teachers and schools.  It is not clear where that road is leading.



Posted in Achievement, Department of Education, Florida, Testing.

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