An emergency rule lowering the passing grade for Florida's standardized writing test will keep the failure rate essentially unchanged from last year.
The State Board of Education unanimously passed the rule Tuesday after preliminary results showed only about a third of students would pass this year. That would have been down from 80 percent or better on last year's writing portion of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, or FCAT.
Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said that the problem was not with the students.
"Our students, in terms of their learning ability and educational level, did not drop over 50 percent over the course of a year," he said.
The dramatic decrease came after the test was made more difficult and the board raised the passing grade from 3.5 to four on a scale of zero to six.
The emergency rule will drop the passing grade to three but only for this year. The writing test is given in the 4th, 8th and 10th grades.
"The state was moving too fast in adopting too many different changes in the FCAT without appropriately notifying teachers, school boards, and parents," Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said.