CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -

Brevard third-graders proved to be much better readers than their counterparts around the state, according to state standardized test results released on Thursday.

Local 6 news partner Florida Today reports the district’s third-graders also outperformed the state average on the math version of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, although not to the same degree as in reading.

As expected, the tougher tests pulled down overall results when compared to previous years — putting more third-graders in jeopardy of not advancing a grade. It’s not clear what impact results will have on A to F school grades.

65 percent of Brevard’s 5,100 third-graders who took the new FCAT 2.0 exam achieved at least a 3 on the reading test. That compares to only 56 percent of third-graders statewide.

"We are proud of our students, teachers and staff who worked so hard to meet the higher expectations of this year’s implementation of FCAT 2.0," Superintendent Brian Binggeli said.

Last year, under different standards, 79 percent of Brevard’s third-graders scored at least a 3 on the 5-level test.

In the math version this year, 63 percent of Brevard third-graders earned a 3 or better, while 58 percent did statewide. Last year, that number was 82 percent in Brevard.

The state Board of Education voted last year to raise the standards for passing the test, noting at the time that it would likely mean more students failing in this critical grade. However, state officials defended their decision, saying it was necessary to ensure students are grasping what they need to move forward in their schooling.

Students must pass the third-grade reading test to move on to the next grade. While a score of 3 or higher is considered proficient, students need only to achieve a 2 or higher to be promoted to fourth grade.

This year, 13 percent of Brevard students scored a 1, the lowest level, in reading, which could put them at risk of having to repeat third grade. That compares to 18 percent statewide. Last year, 12 percent of Brevard third-graders scored that low.

That doesn’t automatically mean that the approximately 670 students will be held back next year. Schools have some options, including allowing a teacher to consider a portfolio of the student’s work.

Florida Today also reports:

  • Some 53 of the more than 60 Brevard elementary schools where students took the reading FCAT had more than half of their students score a 3 or better.
  • At Freedom 7 Elementary in Cocoa Beach, a choice school, 98 percent of students received a 3 or higher on reading. On the math test, 100 percent scored a 3 or above.
  • Six Brevard elementary schools had all of their students achieve at least a 2 or higher, meaning none of their students are at automatic risk of retention.