Learn More: FCAT School Grades

What does this mean?

The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) is an exam given to all Florida public school students in Grades 3 through 11. The purpose of the exam is to measure at what level public school students are performing in reading, writing, mathematics, and science. It is standardized so that students across the state can be measured against each other and to determine how well students are mastering basic skills. In the 2010-2011 school year, the statewide assessment programs began transitioning to assessing student achievement of the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards through the implementation of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test® 2.0 (FCAT 2.0) and Florida End-of-Course (EOC) Assessments.

Each year, Florida's public schools receive a grade (A, B, C, D, F) that is based on the FCAT scores of the students in each of the schools. These school grades are meant to represent a "snapshot" of how well a school is performing. An "A" school is a top-performing school and an "F" school is a failing school. The State of Florida uses these school grades to make decisions about additional "bonus" funding and school vouchers.

Florida Department of Education FCAT website Clicking on this link will result in leaving the Community Atlas website.

Why is it important?

The FCAT school scores can be important in the understanding of how well Florida public school students in each school are doing in reading, writing, mathematics and science. It may also help us understand how effective a school has been in teaching these skills to their students. Additionally, some school funding decisions are made based on the school grade results. Although some criticism exists regarding the FCAT (and standardized testing in general), it is currently the only uniform method to compare the performance of students statewide.

How are the data collected (methods)?

The FCAT test is given yearly (typically in the spring) to all public school students in Grades 3 through 11. These tests are scored with a combination of electronic scoring (using computer programs) and hand scoring (using trained scorers). These scores are then used to determine a school's grade.

Caveats and Limitations

  • Although the FCAT school grades are presented for schools within a particular geographic boundary (neighborhood, community, municipality, county), not all of the students who attend the school come from the neighborhood or community where the school is located. Hillsborough County has a "School Choice" program that allows parents to place their children in public schools that have available space. Additionally, parents can place their children in Charter and Magnet schools within the county. Therefore, do not interpret the school grade as a direct reflection of the achievement of students living in the same neighborhood or community as the school.
  • School grades from year to year are not always directly comparable. For example, in the 2004-05 school year, students with disabilities were included in the learning gains component of the school grade calculation. They had been previously excluded. Therefore, schools with higher percentages of students with disabilities might have seen an effect on their grades.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is FCAT being phased out? The Florida Dept. of Education is moving toward Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for English language arts and mathematics, which will be fully implemented by the 2014-2015 school year. The Next Generation Sunshine State Standards (NGSSS) will continue to comprise the majority of standards used for science and social studies courses (along with the appropriate Common Core Literacy Standards); the state-wide assessment for these subjects will continue to be the FCAT. Further, until the 2014-2015 school year, FCAT will continue to be the state-wide assessment for English language arts and mathematics.

More information about the Common Core State Standards Clicking on this link will result in leaving the Community Atlas website..

Additional Information