FCAT Reading Scores on the Rise

Florida's students are slowly but surely becoming better readers. This year just over half of those who took the FCAT showed they can read at or above their grade level for the first time in Florida history.

“It's a significant improvement that I'm so proud of and I know that Florida's parents and all Floridians are proud of," Gov. Bush says.

Sixth and seventh graders at the middle school where Lee Fagan works showed real progress in reading. He credits Florida's new focus on making reading a priority.

"We've put reading into all of our classes across the board, be it math, social studies, we focus on reading in there, not just reading for comprehension but also to build an enjoyment of reading,” says Lee Fagan, a teacher at Fairview Middle.

But eighth and tenth graders slipped in this year's FCAT scores in both reading and math. No matter how the governor spins it, 51 percent of students reading at or above grade level still means nearly half of Florida students are reading below their grade level.

Critics say that's because the state still doesn't put enough money into educating its kids.

"As a matter of fact, education's share of the state general revenue has dropped from 55 percent to 50 percent in the last five years, so it lets you know we're not spending what we could be on education in our state,” says State Rep. Curtis Richardson, (D) Tallahassee.

But Florida will pump 15 million new dollars this year into reading coaches and programs for struggling middle school students. Educators hope the extra effort will help turn around slumping FCAT scores in the middle schools, just like Florida is now seeing with its younger students.