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Flagler Students Mostly Improve in Math, English and Civics, Ranking District in Top Third of State, But Struggle in Science

| July 2, 2019

indian trails middle school

It shows the way. (© FlaglerLive)

Flagler County students generally improved in English and math and strongly improved in civics, keeping the county in the top tier of districts across the state in math and English and vaulting Flagler into that tier in civics. But the district’s students struggled a bit more in science, their scores remaining barely above the state average. Flagler students also did well in Civics and history.


Imagine School at Town center had a particularly strong showing in English and math, as did Old Kings Elementary, as did Indian Trails Middle School in most disciplines. Buddy Taylor middle school had concerning numbers in math’s Florida Standards Assessments but stronger numbers in geometry and algebra.

“I am proud of our students, teachers, and staff for the hard work they put in each year,” Superintendent James Tager was quoted as saying in a release. “While these scores are simply a snapshot of where our students are, it shows we are accomplishing a lot in our schools as we prepare our children for life after high school graduation.”

The results were from: the English Language Arts (ELA) Florida Standards Assessments for grades 3-10; Mathematics FSA for grades 3-8; Algebra I and Geometry FSA for all students; Civics, Biology I, and US History End of Course Exams for all students; Statewide science assessment for grades 5 and 8.

In English, students at every grade level improved: by four points (to 62 percent) in grades 3-5, by two points in grades 6-8 (to 60 percent), and by one point in grades 9 and 10, to 57 percent. The state average in every category was below Flagler’s, and five points below Flagler’s when all eight grades are calculated. Flagler’s 62 percent proficiency score remains 13 points below state-leading St. Johns’ 75. But among counties, it places Flagler in 16th place statewide, up from 20th last year.

Among third graders, the district’s best performing schools were Old Kings Elementary (76 percent proficiency) and Imagine School at Town Center, the charter school (74 percent). Belle Terre Elementary was at 69, followed by Rymfire (68), Wadsworth (63) and Bunnell (58).

Among eighth graders, Imagine edged out Indian Trails by a point, with 69 percent at proficiency or better. Buddy Taylor Middle was at 55. And in 10th grade, Matanzas was at 57, Flagler Palm Coast High School at 51.

In Math, improvements were slighter, with the district’s combined third through eighth graders gaining one point year over year, to 65 percent, edged up by middle schoolers. Elementary school students’ scores stayed flat at 63 percent proficiency. Flagler was four points above the state average but, and it ranked 16th in the state (St. Johns was perennially first), same as last year.

Among third graders, Imagine topped the list of achievers with 80 percent at level 3 or above, followed by Old Kings Elementary (77), Rymfire (75), Wadsworth (72), Belle Terre (69) and Bunnell (65). The drop for Belle Terre contrasts with previous years’ stronger showings.

Among eighth graders, 60 percent of Buddy Taylor’s students failed to be at proficiency or better–one of the more concerning numbers in the year’s results–while 58 percent passed at Indian Trails and 54 percent did so at Imagine. Buddy Taylor’s seventh graders did better, with 51 percent passing, but that number was 20 points below the success rate at Imagine and Indian Trails.

In Algebra 1 in spring, 62 percent of the more than 1,000 students who took the test passed (one point above the state average), and an impressive 98 percent of seventh graders did so, but only 53 percent of ninth graders and 18 percent of 10th graders did so. The lower grades among high school students reflect “retakers,” students who have failed previously and are attempting to pass the test again. Indian Trails had a 95 percent success rate, Imagine was at 90 percent, Buddy Taylor at 80, and the two high schools were at 45 (FPC) and 44 percent (Matanzas).

In winter the success rate was lower for the district, with just 43 percent passing: most of those taking the test were in 10th and 11th grade. But in the state as a whole, the rate was 39 percent. Same story in fall, with the smallest number of students taking the test, almost all of them in high school, and with 55 percent passing in Flagler.

In geometry in spring, with the largest number of students taking the test, the state average passing rate was 57 percent. In Flagler, it was 63, again with eighth graders leading the way (93 percent), ninth graders at 81 percent, and 10th graders at 60. The passing rate at Indian Trails was 98, at Buddy Taylor it was 87, and 56 percent at both high schools.

In the science assessment, fifth graders in Flagler lost a point over 2018, falling to 53 percent, eighth graders dropped significantly, losing eight points, to 54 percent, while the two grades combined did better when the Biology 1 end of course exam is included, improving to 68, from 65. In the spring Biology EOC, 69 percent of students passed, and 80 percent did so among ninth graders. The proportion was 43 percent or less among 10th and 11th graders. Students at FPC did significantly better than at Matanzas, with a 74 percent passing rate, compared to 61 percent at Matanzas.

In civics, Flagler students in grades four through 12 were at 75 percent proficiency, three points higher than the state average. Flagler gained six points over the previous year and vaulted to 15th place in the state, up from 35th last year in that category. In history, the state average was 70 percent at proficiency for those taking the End of Course assessment in spring. In Flagler, it was 73, with students at FPC edging out those at Matanzas by a point (74-73).

A district-issued analysis clearly calibrated to give each school at least one pat on the back summed up the following highlights: 

  • Bunnell Elementary: Grade 6 math up 15%
  • Belle Terre Elementary: Grade 6 ELA up 6%
  • Old Kings Elementary: Grade 4 ELA up 11%
  • Rymfire Elementary: Grade 3 math a 5% increase
  • Wadsworth Elementary: Grade 6 math a 10% increase
  • Buddy Taylor Middle School: Civics EOC up 12%
  • Indian Trails Middle School: Grade 7 math up 16%
  • Flagler Palm Coast High School: Biology 1 EOC up 13%
  • Matanzas High School: Grade 9 ELA up 5%

The district analysis neglected to highlight Imagine’s achievements, though the school is a publicly financed (but privately run) charter. Charters don’t necessarily have to abide by standards set for traditional public schools.

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6 Responses for “Flagler Students Mostly Improve in Math, English and Civics, Ranking District in Top Third of State, But Struggle in Science”

  1. Little bird says:

    It should be noted that the civics & biology 1 & History EOC exams are written by District staff/school teachers. Thus these exams vary greatly in difficulty by District (aka county) in Florida. Additionally research shows that reading ELA scores are directly correlated to science and social science test scores. So are these really valid tests for true assessment of student success?
    My heart aches for the hundreds of kids at one of Flagler’s only two middle schools still consistently lagging 20points behind the other AND more than half of students at that school failed to meet proficiency. It’s no wonder why so many kids zoned for BTMS/FPHC are being homeschooled in Flagler! Why the discrepancy on such a small district? Mmmm…

  2. MRC says:

    I am happy that there were improvements, but 60%? NOT acceptable! These numbers are pitiful when compared with St. John’s schools. Coming from a school district where scores were 80-85%, I find these numbers very concerning! The schools in this state are frankly pitiful. Where does the problem lie? Start at the state level whose responsibility is to raise standards, instructional time, and require a rigorous curriculum. When we see middle schools dismissing students in early afternoon should we be surprised that their scores are pitiful? Schools should be required to have instructional time commensurate with other high performing districts (at least a seven hour day) with homework assistance and individual tutoring after school dismisses. These are practices in high performing school districts. It seems people tend to ignore this situation as it doesn’t apply to them (chalk this up to the number of retirees in this community). We should be concerned as this is our future generation and may affect our grandchildren and great-grandchildren! Wake up Flagler County school board members! Fluff and interesting programs won’t raise test scores. And unfortunately test scores do determine admission to colleges, scholarships,etc. And attending a prestigious college determines the ability to obtain a well paying job. Wake up people! Our children deserve so much better!

  3. ron says:

    @little bird. Please check your facts- Civic and Biology are not district written tests. They state EOC’s. It is really important when making statements to be accurate. As far as the comment about how many more students that are zoned for BTMS/FPC, How do you know this? What are the numbers and how did you attain them?

  4. ron says:

    -Clarification- How many students you “feel” are being homeschooled because they are zoned for BTMS/FPC. Finally, there is school choices which means you may attend the school you would like.

  5. wow says:

    “The district analysis neglected to highlight Imagine’s achievements, though the school is a publicly financed (but privately run) charter. Charters don’t necessarily have to abide by standards set for traditional public schools.” So they use our money but don’t have to provide results? Nice deal for them. Let’s have more of those!

  6. John Smith says:

    Give me a break! More and more students are being homeschooled because of the Flagler County corruption, especially in the Board of Education.

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