Distractions and disruptions have a price: only 49 percent of Flagler County’s 10th graders last school year were reading English at grade level, the lowest proportion in over a decade and a decline from 53 percent in 2021. Flagler’s 10th grade reading scores have declined every year since 2018, when 55 percent of students scored at grade level or better. Students were not tested in 2020. In 2019, 54 percent of students had scored at grade level.
The decline in 2022 was especially steep at Flagler Palm Coast High School, which recorded its lowest score by far in 11 years. FPC’s results were offset somewhat by improvement at Matanzas High School. One brighter spot: 61 percent of the 28 tenth graders at iFlagler, the district’s virtual option, scored at grade level or better, a small contradiction of the common notion that in-person instruction is necessarily superior to virtual instruction.
The low scores are not without context.
Although schools were back in session exclusively in person but for iFlagler, the first part of the school year was significantly impacted by a surge in covid cases among students and faculty, resulting in widespread absenteeism. The state Department of Education forbade districts from instituting effective safety mesures such as masking, off-campus options or on-site rapid testing, though the local health department offered the latter for free. The absence of mandated safety measures exacerbated absenteeism and likely affected students’ performances.
The district experienced chronic staff shortages and retirements. And for well over a year, the school board has been disproportionately focused on ideological rather than academic issues, seeking to ban books, punish student and teacher expression, hurting morale, and in one case, going so far as to target a reading text for elimination because it contained an admiring reference to Black Lives Matter. One school board member filed a criminal complaint against the superintendent and machinated against a teacher until she was fired, another maneuvered to fire the school board attorney. Faculty were were as likely to look over their shoulders as at their lesson plans.
The school board itself often devolved into embarrassing displays of acrimony and dysfunction amplified by agitated and agitating audiences at evening meetings. The two board members who were overwhelmingly the source of distractions and controversies, Jill Woolbright and Janet McDonald, will be off the board by November (Woolbright lost a re-election bid, McDonald lost a bid for a county commission seat.) Classrooms could only be insulated so much from that broader context.
Last year, 54 percent of Flagler Palm Coast High School’s 10th graders scored a 3 or better, out of 586 students who took the written test, which consisted of two 90-minute sessions. Of those, 34 percent scored a 4 or a 5, and 25 percent were at level 1, meaning that they were “highly likely to need substantial support for the next grade.”
At Matanzas, exactly half the 379 students who took the test passed with a level 3 or better, 28 percent of whom scored a 4 or a 5, and 26 percent were at level 1.
Level 5 is mastery, level 4 is proficiency (“likely to excel in the next grade/course”), level 3 is satisfactory (“may need additional support for the next grade/course”) levels 2 and 1 are below satisfactory and inadequate.
This year, 45 percent of the 607 tenth graders at FPC who took the test passed with 3 or better, with 25 percent scoring at level 4 or 5, and 28 percent scoring at level 1. At Matanzas, 53 percent of the 357 students who took the test passed with 3 or better, including 32 percent at level 4 or 5, and 20 percent at level 1.
Flagler’s overall passing rate matches that of the state and places it tied with two other counties in 24th place out of 67 counties. neighboring St. Johns County, consistently the highest performing county in the state, recorded a passing rate of 71. No other county came close. Only two were in the 60s: Liberty at 64, Walton at 62. Volusia was at 46, Putnam at 35.
The test was part of the Florida Standards Assessment, which required that 10th graders pass their English assessment to earn a diploma. The FSA is being phased out for the Florida Assessment of Student Thinking, which is based on progress monitoring.
Stop blaming officials! Put the responsibility where it belongs. Teaching. Teachers have a curriculum to follow there’s no time to help the ones who fall behind. They have to meet set timelines, making it hard to stop if a child doesn’t get it. It’s sink or swim for those children. They haven’t mastered the basics then it’s get compounded. Your child falls behind. Failing. Self esteem is affected. Bullied over bad marks that some teachers share with the class, trying to get those said children to do better. Teachers and children both. Vicious cycle. We preach no bullying but we promote it.
Michael Cocchiola says
Yep… blame the teachers for the pressures put on them by MAGA parents, school boards and our Mega-MAGA governor. Blame the teachers for stealing public school funds to send students to private, unregulated “Christian” schools. Blame teachers for their low morale (and lower pay!) while being hunted like criminals by the terrorist Moms for Liberty trying to get them arrested and fired for actually teaching.
If you don’t like teachers… send your kids to a Christian-affiliated school where they’ll learn to be good little sheep so they can get good jobs sweeping floors for companies owned by former public school alumni.
jim morrison says
mike, enough with the blame on republicans or the new semi fascist party. ENOUGH! please list the teachers arrested and or fired for teaching. — names please. A teacher in flagler county makes about $53k. the mean income average for the county is $28k– i guess the teachers should look elsewhere for better paying jobs in a very compressed salary market. side note I attended a catholic grade school and high school in volusia county and actually graduated college without student loans and yes I swept floors but not sure where the boss went to grade/high school. today i don’t care because I retired at an early age == so screw you!!!!
Deborah Coffey says
Have you ever been to school? Nothing you’ve said is true in real life.
Annual testing is an inadequate way to measure student progress. A CBT (computer based testing) such as a NWEA program which is based on student answers and adjusts question’s level of difficulty as it is used produces data within 2 days, not months or weeks. I taught in a high needs district outside of Detroit and this was invaluable to me and the student. (Students who randomly answered questions and received low grade level results were shocked and took the assessment more seriously!)
As a retired Reading Specialist and current reading mentor, I can tell you that having ONE reading specialist per 1200 students in an elementary building is a joke! The basics start in elementary school.
You get what you are willing to pay (and staff).
The dude says
Yet the right wing culture warriors choose to waste time and scant resources battling to burn obscure books no one has ever heard of, and protecting us all against the very small number of kids who comport themselves a little differently.
So, let’s keep banning books, and punish teachers and students from expressing their rights to have an opinion. With lousy teacher pay, lack of morale because of insurmountable expectations from the State, is there any wonder with these results. Leave Politics out of the classroom and let these trained professionals do their job. Some of these kids go home to parents who couldn’t care less about helping their kids move forward for a better future. And the BS from this governor about “parental rights”!! If parents don’t have the common sense to want to help their children, that becomes the problem. By opening ‘all doors” through the learning process in the classroom as to what’s in the “real” world is the way to prepare a child into their adult life. It starts with reading, understanding and acceptance of ideas you don’t have to necessarily agree with, but realize that there are other opinions besides your own.
Downturn Abby says
Way to go teachers and faculty.You can blame some of these failed kids on their lousy parents, but not at rates of 50% plus! STOP FILLING OUR KIDS HEADS WITH BS AND START DOING YOUR DAMN JOBS. You cannot blame the school board for the action or should I say inaction going on in the classrooms. If these children were passing at 100% we would be praising the teachers for having made it all possible. Well when the pendulum swings the other way take the responsibility for your failures. The teachers union be damned, these underachieving teachers need to be weeded out and removed.
10,000 feet above says
If you “weed out” current teachers where are you going to find qualified replacements?
And, what criteria are you going to use to “weed out” teachers?
Richard Smith says
Blame the teachers and not the parents. NOT..
Wow, the information about the extremely low percentage of high school kids that received a passing grade in English, of all classes, is shocking! Whether or not the pandemic and kids being schooled at home for an extended period of time have had any bearing on this abysmal result, the one thing I know for certain is the over reliance on text messaging and social media apps, and the abbreviated language they commonly use to communicate with each other, is NOT helping teens learn and use proper grammar and spelling. I just did a quick google search and found an article (link below) listing 116 common texting abbreviations used by teens when communicating on their phones. Many of these I looked at I would not have even knows what they meant without seeing the translation next to it. No wonder teens are not very good at English in today’s world with their language typed for the most part in nonsensical acronyms. With all of the many problems that our schools have to deal with today, it just reinforces my belief that our society’s teachers are vastly underpaid for the important job they have. Good grief!
Over It says
Maybe a little more focus on ABCs and alot less on LGBs and they wouldnt be in this mess. This rests solely in the hands of the teachers. Remember this next time they cry poor mouth and want more money. The people that need to be paid more are the custodians and para professionals. They seem to be the only ones completing the jobs they are paid to do.
Michael Cocchiola says
So, while student scores were falling, the school board was fighting culture wars because of Jill Woolbright and Janet McDonald.
Is this a harbinger of Florida’s slide into a mediocracy under Ron DeSantis, “the Education Governor”? In the worst-case disaster scenario, he becomes president and turns the entire U.S into an idiocracy. It’s possible with the dumb sh#ts in the MAGA Party.
jim morrison says
pretty rich to blame republicans for this failure. you should read today’s NYT’s and WSJ – this made headlines and front page coverage and nowhere was the blame on desantis nor republicans- actually gov desantis got praise from both for keeping FL schools open. if you are going to point fingers how about randi weingarten, fauci and the biden admin? fyi LA county schools finally fell on their sword and admitted that the lock downs were too severe and caused undue harm to students — you need to find others to blame
Teacher spending too much time on woke and liberal politics.
Do private school and charter school students have to take the same test? If so, how did they score?
David B, says says
How many Parents made there kids read at least 3 classic books during Summer Break.
To late says
My daughter goes to CTK, a private school. She reads at a level that is 3 grades above her grade. The public schools here absolutely suck. The system is so full of top paid administrators that there is no one left to teach
Gee, and you wonder why parents are sending kids to Christian and private schools. Public schools are failing, that’s what.
COVID BABY says
So, during this COVID era there’s a 4% drop in reading proficiency in 10th graders. Wow! Let’s blame, I don’t know……The governor, the state Board of Education, the local school board, Trump, and what else….oh wait fascism. Did I miss anything? I have one kid in the Flagler school system right now, he score 1540 on his SATs last year. His brother who graduated in 2018 scored 1490 on his and just graduated from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) with a degree in Aerospace Engineering, that’s a rocket scientist degree for you slow people. You can blame cultural, government, TRUMP, or however you want, but you might want to look in the mirror.
Return to teaching the Basics— Reading, Writing, and Math plus STEM! STOP teaching CRT and other Wokism CRAP! Every High School must have (1) Basic Economics 101 (so that dishonest College Recruiters can NOT Suck them into signing expensive student loans ) plus a budget plans including controlling credit card debt, and (2) Home Economics for all students so they can learn Basic Cooking, Home, and Auto Repairs to Prepare them for living on their own.
Deborah Coffey says
The Republican dream is coming true. Keep and stupid and illiterate and they’ll believe every lie we tell and then they’ll vote for us every time. Keep sending all our tens of millions to the failing charter schools or the ones that never even opened, Repubs! You’ll own the whole stupid country.
FB Native says
Why am I seeing DeSantis ads everywhere stating how much he’s done for education?
This, uh, isn’t exactly what you want your name tied to.
Welcome to DeSantis’ Florida, where it’s more important to take down rainbow flags, declare your political preference, and have unqualified teachers educating our youth.
Just a reminder that “Why Johnny Can’t Read” was published in 1955. We Americans are willingly dumbing down ourselves and our children via television and internet. In Flagler we need look no further than the quasi-militia religious zealots who show up at every school board meeting and the candidates they back. They decry “indoctrination” unless it fits their own ideology and happily support wasting public funds on their own evangelical madrassas or futile homeschooling scams. Who the hell wants to teach their ill mannered spawn?
Less money for schools, more tax $s to private schools. The city officials voted themselves a pay raise. We will be paying more taxes soon. I think the money is being used unwisely. The students suffer. Who would like to be a teacher not me. The Repubs will make the problem worse listen to what I say.
Obviously, there is sufficient blame to go around but an incompetent school board is surely to blame. Too focused on off-the-wall ideas and not focused enough on students and their future. This School Board and the Florida Department of Education should be replaced with non-political entities. If Desantis is the Education Governor he should be worried about the reports showing students failing in English, Math, Social Studies, etc.
Parents, no matter what their political beliefs are, should demand a good education for their children and accept nothing less.
Timothy Patrick Welch says
Teacher pay should be tied to student performance, simple solution.
College tuition costs have risen 179.2% in the last 20 years, soaring beyond inflation by 171%, (education data.org), but check any reliable source. If you believe today’s college freshman is going to cover their first year at UCF $22,838 by sweeping floors, you need to share that wand of yours.
Did you learn your disrespectful debating skills in a Catholic high school?