Who takes the FCAT?

  • All public school students in Grades 3 through 11 are required to take the FCAT 2.0. The tests are given only in public schools, though private school students who receive opportunity scholarships must also take the FCAT 2.0. Home education students are tested only if their parents or guardians select the FCAT 2.0 as an evaluation option.

Why do students take the FCAT?

  • To meet the complex challenges of today’s workplace, students must be skilled in mathematics and science, be able to read and understand difficult texts, and be able to write well. FCAT 2.0 test questions are designed to measure the reading, writing, mathematics, and science skills that students should acquire by the end of each grade level in grades 3-10. The test helps teachers, principals, and superintendents determine the level of success students have with the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards.

When is the FCAT given?

  • The FCAT is given to students each year in February (Writing) and in April (Reading, Mathematics, and Science)

Florida’s K-12 Statewide Accountability System

Why are schools graded?

  • The Florida Department of Education reports the statewide FCAT 2.0/EOC results each year and grades each school in the state based on student performance.
    • A = Schools making excellent progress
    • B = Schools making above average progress
    • C = Schools making satisfactory progress
    • D = Schools making less than satisfactory progress
    • F = Schools failing to make adequate progress

 In 2011, all school grades include four measures of student achievement and four measures of student learning gains plus several non-FCAT-based components for high schools. Florida’s current school accountability system originated with state legislation passed in 1999 (the “A+ Plan”) and has been revised periodically to reflect increased standards and expectations for student performance. Florida is the first state to track annual student learning gains based on the state’s academic standards.

School grades have been issued since 1999, with the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) being the primary instrument in calculating school grades. In 2002, significant improvements were made in how school grades were calculated to fully implement the intent of Florida’s original plan. The most noteworthy improvement was the inclusion of student learning gains. Additionally, a measure was added to determine whether the lowest performing students are making annual improvements in specified subjects. Florida’s accountability system allows the improvement of individual students to be tracked from one year to the next based on FCAT developmental scores in reading and mathematics in grades 3 through 10. In 2010, Florida’s school grading system was further revised to include several additional measures for high schools, including the four-year graduation rate, the graduation rate for at-risk students, participation and performance in accelerated curricula, and postsecondary readiness, as well as a component for measuring annual growth or decline in these measures. In 2011, the Grade 9 FCAT Mathematics Assessment was discontinued with the phase-in of the state’s Algebra 1 End-of-Course (EOC) Assessment (which will not be used in school grades until the 2011-12 school year). Also in 2011, the “percent proficient” criterion for the FCAT Writing component was changed to the percent scoring at 4.0 and above (from the percent scoring at 3.5 and above).

A more general and concise description of the school grading system is found on the school grading “guide sheet” (see Appendix A, p. 25) which can be accessed online at the applicable link at the bottom of the Florida School Grades Web site (http://schoolgrades.fldoe.org/).

Specific Authority

The authority for Florida’s system of school accountability is addressed in Florida Statutes and Florida Administrative Code Rules. 


Florida Statutes – Section 1008.34

  • This section of Florida law requires the Commissioner of Education to prepare annual reports of student performance for each school and district in the state. The law specifies the grade categories, the timeframes, and the types of information to be included in the calculations. Further, the law directs the State Board of Education to adopt appropriate criteria for each school grade category.

 Florida Administrative Code Rule 6A-1.09981

This rule describes the implementation requirements for Florida’s System of School Improvement and Accountability. The State Board of Education has periodically revised this rule for clarification and to ensure compliance with updates to the governing statute. The rule provides policy information as well as procedural guidance for implementing the program. It also specifies which schools are included in the system and the criteria for designating the school grades. In addition, the rule describes the rewards and recognition for schools and the assistance and intervention provisions for low performing schools (D and F).

 Florida Statutes – Section 1008.341

  • This section of Florida law provides for school improvement ratings for alternative schools. Alternative schools that provide dropout prevention and academic intervention services pursuant to s. 1003.53 may elect to receive a school improvement rating in lieu of a grade. The school improvement rating shall identify schools as having one of the following ratings defined according to rules of the State Board of Education:

“Improving” means schools with students making more academic progress than when the students were served in their home schools.

“Maintaining” means schools with students making progress equivalent to the progress made when the students were served in their home schools.

“Declining” means schools with students making less academic progress than when the students were served in their home schools.


Florida’s K-12 Statewide Assessment Program

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. Selected grades and subjects will continue to participate in FCAT assessments until the transition is complete. To learn more about this transition and the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards, or to research the assessment(s) your child may be taking, visit the newly created Success Measures website. To learn more about the individual K-12 assessments offered in Florida, visit the links below:

  • FCAT 2.0: The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test® 2.0, which measures student success with the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards, includes assessments in reading (grades 3-10), mathematics (grades 3-8), and science (grades 5 and 8 ) in the 2011-2012 school year. Changes to the writing assessment for grades 4, 8, and 10 will begin in spring of 2013.
  • FCAT: The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test®, which measures student success with the Sunshine State Standards, will include assessments in reading (retake), mathematics (retake), and writing (grades 4, 8, and 10) in the 2011-2012 school year. Historically, the FCAT measured the Sunshine State Standards in reading and mathematics (grades 3-10), science (grades 5, 8, and 11), and writing (grades 4, 8, and 10).

Florida EOC Assessments: The Florida End-of-Course Assessments are computer-based tests designed to measure student achievement of the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards for specific middle- and high-school level courses, as outlined in their course descriptions. The Algebra 1 EOC Assessment was administered for the first time in May 2011; the Biology 1 and Geometry EOC Assessments will be administered for the first time in May 2012; the U.S. History EOC Assessment will be administered for the first time in 2013; and the Civics EOC

  • Assessment will be administered to seventh graders for the first time in 2014.
  • NAEP: The National Assessment of Educational Progress is a periodic national assessment of America’s students in mathematics, reading, science, writing, the arts, civics, economics, geography, and U.S. history.
  • International Assessments: The United States participated in the following two important international studies in the spring of 2011 to help benchmark student performance in the U. S. compared to other countries around the world: Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS). The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) will be administered in the fall of 2012. PIRLS is administered every five years, TIMSS is administered every four years, and PISA is administered every three years. All three international assessments and research projects are designed to measure trends in achievement and are managed in the United States by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

The Florida Department of Education has also posted information on the following sites:

  • FCAT 2.0 (Next Generation Standards) Sample Test Materials: http://fcat.fldoe.org/fcatsmpl.asp
  • FCAT 2.0 Publication Documents: http://fcat.fldoe.org/fcatpub2.asp
  • 2011 Florida Statewide Assessment Scores: http://fcat.fldoe.org/mediapacket/2011/default.asp
  • Other Assessments and Resources: http://www.fldoe.org/asp/othrhome.asp

Success Measures webpage: http://www.fldoe.org/successmeasures