The Florida State Board of Education held an emergency meeting Tuesday to discuss how to fix the dramatic decrease in the preliminary FCAT Writing Assessment scores. The preliminary numbers, released Monday, dropped a bombshell for Bay District school officials.
"I was utterly shocked like I said we anticipated a slight decline but nothing to this matter," said Bay District's Coordinator of Assessment and Accountability, Camilla Hudson.
Hudson says the drops could be attributed to the state's new FCAT 2.0, which raises cut scores, standards and expectations of students.
For 4th grade Lynn Haven Elementary teacher, Jataime Walsingham, that meant she had to cram four years of proper grammar and punctuation lessons into one year of teaching, as the State decided this year, those things were important and should be graded.
"I was a little disappointed because we had worked very hard....it felt like there was so much to do and so little time," Walsingham said.
According to the Florida Department of Education, 81% of students passed the FCAT Writing Exam, but preliminary numbers show that this year that number dropped to just 27% of students passing.
Those drops are also similar at the 8th and 10th grade levels as well.
"At some point you have to let the stress go because you have to look at yourself and say, 'Did I do everything that I could? Yes. Did my students do everything that they could? Yes,' and the scoring is an issue but it's not an issue that I can do anything about," Walsingham said.
"The state created this mess they need to address it, that's my opinion," Hudson said.
And that is what the state did Tuesday. The Board of Education held an emergency meeting to lower the passing grade from a 4.0 to a 3.0.
"It's better than nothing I think reacting is not as good as pro-acting but now that it is done we have to do the best that we can to move on," Walsingham said.
School leaders want parent to know that these are just state preliminary numbers. The results for students in Bay County have not been released yet. The FCAT Writing Assessment score does not affect whether a student is promoted to the next grade or held back.