TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Board of Education decided in an emergency meeting Tuesday to lower the passing grade on the writing portion of Florida's standardized test after preliminary results showed a drastic drop in student passing scores.
The results indicated only about a third of students would pass this year's tougher Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test exam, compared with a passing rate of 80 percent or more last year.
This is the first year students and schools will be assessed on the basis of tougher tests and scoring systems, expecting to result in more students failing the FCAT and lower school grades.
The board, though, agreed at its regular meeting last week not to let any school drop more than one letter grade this year to help them adjust to the rigorous new standards.
The writing exam was made more difficult by increasing expectations for proper punctuation, capitalization, spelling and sentence structure. The board also increased the passing grade from 3.5 to 4 on scale of zero to 6.
The preliminary results show only 27 percent of fourth-graders received a passing score compared with 81 percent last year.
For eighth-graders it was 33 percent — down from 82 percent in 2011. For 10th-graders it was 38 percent — a drop from 80 percent last year.