Gadsden County's Low FCAT Scores

Gadsden County school officials say they can't explain the dip in this year's preliminary FCAT numbers. The numbers went down in third grade reading and math, but administrators say they're preparing a new strategy.

Gadsden County school superintendent Sterling Dupont says he was somewhat surprised with the preliminary numbers, but he feels he and area teachers shouldn't give up on the game, they just need to find another way to play it.

Sherell Dobson teaches third grade at Stewart Street Elementary in Gadsden County. She says the low preliminary FCAT scores for Gadsden County can be raised, but part of the solution begins at home.

"I'm being quite honest here, our biggest problem in Gadsden County is parent involvement. If we can have all parents involved in our child's education, then they will get what they need at home, as well as in school, that way it will be a collaborative effort between school and home life," Dobson says.

Stewart Street principal Rosa Barkley says her school went down five points in math, but up two points in reading for third grade, but says no matter the score, she strives for the best with what resources she has available.

"There is quite a bit of testing done, this year at the primary level. Each time we get the results of these tests. We studied them very carefully, so all of these scoring in the red, those students received an extra dose of intense reading," says Barkley.

Preliminary results show this year in Gadsden County the percent of students scoring at grade level in both reading and math for third grade went down 12 points from 2003.

Gadsden County school superintendent Sterling Dupont says there needs to be a change in strategy to keep the numbers moving upward.

"What ever it takes to put our students, in the best position to be successfully academically, we're going to do it. If it means changing people, moving dollars around or whatever it is, we're going to sit down and talk about it," says Dupont.

Dupont says there was an increase in their numbers from 2002 to 2003, but he says he may have to hire additional math specialists and reading coaches in response to this year's dip. Dupont says this year more Gadsden County students had taken the test than ever before, and that some may need to be pulled out for various reasons, but he says he is not sure how many students will have to be retained.