TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — State education officials say about half of Florida’s ninth and 10th grade students failed the reading portion of the new, more rigorous Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.

High school students must pass the 10th grade FCAT 2.0 reading exam to graduate. Those who failed can retake it.

Results released Friday show 52 percent of 9th graders and 50 percent of 10th graders were reading at or above grade level.

The Department of Education also released writing scores showing about 80 percent of students passing, almost the same as last year.

That’s due to an emergency rule the State Board of Education approved this week to lower the passing score. The board acted after preliminary results showed that otherwise only about a third of the students would have passed the tougher test.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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