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After release in FCAT scores, Dems turn up the heat on GOP and Scott administration

The Florida Department of Education released its latest round of FCAT scores Friday and the results show that 52 percent of ninth graders and 50 percent of tenth graders scored 3.0 or higher on the reading exam, up from 48 percent and 39 percent, respectively, a year ago. 

It's relatively good news for state educators but it wasn't enough to stave off criticism from the Florida Democratic Party. A day after U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan chastised Florida legislators for using federal funds to steer money to questionable tutoring programs, Democrat Party Chairman Rod Smith took a shot at the governor Repulican-led Legislature for the poor reports.

"The problem isn't our public schools or our children — the problem is that the Republican Party has demonstrated a complete inability to run Florida’s public education system," Smith in a statement. "Over the last decade, Republicans have railed against public schools, consistently underfunded them, required our teachers to teach to an ever-changing test and then feigned surprise when our students performed poorly."

The Department of Education released results for the 2012 FCAT tests today for ninth and tenth grade FCAT 2.0 Reading and FCAT Writing as well as retake results. Education Secretary Gerard Robinson said they reflect the state's move toward more rigorous set of nationwide academic educational standards called the Common Core State Standards.

 “We are asking more from our students and teachers than we ever have, and I am proud of their hard work,” Robinson said. “Florida’s higher standards help ensure students are learning what they are expected to know so that they are prepared for college, career, and life. As Florida transitions to higher standards and higher expectations, we can expect our assessment results to reflect those changes.”

The results show:

* only 52 percent of students in grade 9 were performing at or above Achievement Level 3 (on grade level) on FCAT 2.0 Reading.

* only 50 percent of students in grade 10 received passing scores performing at or above Achievement Level 3 on FCAT 2.0 Reading (a decline from 60 percent in 2011 when the passing score was set within Achievement level 2).

* 81 percent of students in grade 4 earned a score of 3.0 and above on FCAT Writing, compared to 78 percent in grade 8, and 84 percent in grade 10