Florida lowers passing grade for state writing exam after over 70 percent of fourth-graders fail

Published May 16, 2012

| FoxNews.com

The Florida Department of Education lowered the performance level standard on a state writing exam after only 27 percent of fourth graders passed, MyFoxOrlando reports.

The decision to lower the standard from a four to a three was made in an emergency conference call Tuesday. The test scores range from zero to six.

Fourth grade teachers say the test inadequately reflected their pupils' writing abilities. They say the main reason the students did poorly was the test question was too hard.

According to the Florida Department of Education, the prompt, or essay topic, for fourth graders in the state of Florida this year was, "Suppose you or someone else had a chance to ride a camel. Imagine what happens on this camel ride. Write a story about what happens on this camel ride."

Some teachers say the question was unfair, arguing it may be unrealistic to expect fourth-graders to know what a camel is.

"It was just a very poor prompt, when do we see camels in Central Florida," said Ann Egitto, a language arts teacher at Rock Lake Middle School according to MyFoxOrlando.

Lisa Wright, a teacher at Idyllwilde Elementary School, agrees. "A lot fourth graders in my school probably don't even know what a camel really is," she said according to MyFoxOrlando. 

However, the Department of Education told MyFoxOrlando the question was extensively reviewed and well-received by about 1,500 students who were selected to take it during a field-testing period.

They admitted they could have done a better job communicating student expectations to teachers after lowering the passing grade.

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http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/05/16/florida-lowers-passing-grade-for-state-writing-exam-after-over-70-percent/