SEBRING - State exam scores released Thursday show a few bright spots locally, but for the most part the Highlands District trailed the state on the FCAT and end-of-course exams.
The Florida Department of Education released results of the FCAT 2.0 grades four through 10 Reading, grades four through eight Mathematics and grades five and eight Science, as well as end-of-course (EOC) assessments in Algebra 1, Geometry, Biology 1 and U.S. History Results.
Highlands trailed the state in all grade levels in the percentage of students who scored in Level 3 or above on the FCAT 2.0 Reading.
For example, in fourth-grade, statewide 60 percent scored in Level 3 or above compared to only 47 percent in Highlands.
In seventh grade, statewide 57 percent scored in Level 3 and above compared to only 47 percent in Highlands.
Student test scores fall into five achievement levels with Level 3 considered "on grade level" and Levels 4 and 5 considered above average performance.
With 73 percent in Level 3 or above in reading, Cracker Trail Elementary's fifth-graders clearly bested the district (57 percent) and state (60 percent) percentages.
Compared to the state, the Highlands District's FCAT 2.0 Math results were mixed with Highlands grades three, six and eight performing better than the state, but Highlands grades four, five and seven trailing the state in the percentage of students in Level 3 and above.
Checking the FCAT Science results, Highlands (43 percent) trailed the state (53 percent) in grade five and Highlands (41 percent) trailed the state (47 percent) in grade eight in the percentage in Level 3 and above..
Following are the end-of-course results for all grade levels with the percentage of students passing with a score in Level 3 or above:
Algebra I - State 58 percent, Highlands 43 percent
Biology I - State 66 percent, Highlands 63 percent
Geometry - State 64 percent, Highlands 63 percent
The FDOE reports that statewide, student achievement on FCAT 2.0 Reading increased in grades six, eight, nine and 10, with grade 10 students making the most improvement.
For FCAT 2.0 Mathematics, grade four saw an increase in student achievement, while in FCAT 2.0 Science, grade five also saw an increase and grade eight remained the same.
The overall performance on the end-of-course exams improved across the board, with Biology 1 and Geometry making the most improvement, according to the FDOE.
"These results show that where we put our focus is where we see our progress," said Commissioner of Education Tony Bennett. "While there are gains to celebrate today, we have a lot of work to do and it is not time to lower our expectations for success. We have a clear path forward as Florida shifts to the Common Core State Standards and an emphasis on helping all students think analytically and critically."