No sooner do students take their summer break than school districts begin receiving batches of scores for the year’s high-stakes tests, those End of Course exams and a remnant of FCAT tests that decide each school’s and each district’s letter grade, controls the district’s education ranking in the state, and even controls teachers’ raises to a degree.
Results are released in drips. The first batch was released Friday to the district, which disseminated the numbers Monday. But they touched on just three disciplines and four levels, with many more—including reading and math grades and indicators such as the drop-out rate and graduation rate—pending.
The relatively modest batch of results was also less than stellar, with some improvements but also some notable retreats, judging from the district’s ranking in the state.
In grade 5 science, an FCAT test (Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test), the district’s ranking fell from 28 to 36 in the state, out of 67 counties. It’s still better than the ranking of 54 from two years ago, but fifth graders were now in the lower half of performers in the state, with just 50 percent of students scoring at or above proficiency in the subject.
Bunnell Elementary was the only local school to show improvement in proficiency, rising to 54 percent of students, up from 52 percent last year. The district overall fell 4 percent in proficient or better scores, while the state saw only a 1 percent drop. “We will be working hard with your teachers in the near future to take the next steps to ensure that we can crack the top 20 in this area next year,” Shawn Schmidli wrote in his analysis of the number Monday.
There does not appear to be a broader problem with science education in the district: 8th graders improved their science ranking significantly, from 28 to 15, with 53 percent of students scoring at or above grade level, compared to 48 percent in the state. That gives the district’s two middle schools their highest science ranking since those numbers have been tabulated.
Middle school student maintained a strong ranking in the civics end-of-course exam, with 70 percent of students scoring at or above proficiency. Nevertheless, the district’s ranking fell from 11 to 15—not a terrible fall from a relatively high position to start with, but not an improvement, either.
What high school results were released—in U.S. history and in biology—there were also advances and retreats. Students did better in biology this year, improving their ranking from 42 last year to 26 this year, but three years ago high school biology students had landed the district in 22nd place, and two years ago had landed in 5th place. Flagler students are still above the state average, with 66 percent scoring at or above proficiency in the discipline, the same level they had the previous year, compared to 65 percent in the state.
High school students also slipped in U.S. history, from 8th in the state last year (and 13th two years ago) to 19th this year. The proficiency scores fell, with 69 percent scoring at or above proficiency, compared to 74 percent last year.