The state Department of Education released a mass of standardized test scores Thursday. Key numbers stand out, particularly when looking at core subjects such as English and math, which point to slight declines in the aggregate for Flagler students, though the declines are more grade-specific and, in most cases, school-specific as well. When broken out, the declines tend to be more isolated than systemic, and despite the declines, the district remains above the state average in both English and math.
In other disciplines, Flagler students showed gains and further strength against the state average.
The state tabulates the proportion of the totality of students in grades 3 through 10 who score a level 3 or better, indicating proficiency, in language arts and math. In language arts, Flagler saw a slight drop, from 58 percent of students at proficiency or better in 2017 to 57 percent in 2018 district-wide.
The district remained above the state average of 54 percent in 2018. St. Johns County is the leader with 74 percent of students at proficiency or better, and the only district in the state to break the 70 percent mark. It lost one point since last year. (The aggregate of Florida Virtual School students is at 71 percent.) Twelve districts were between 60 and 69 percent.
Looking more closely at the language arts numbers, Flagler students in grades 3, 4 and 5 saw the steepest decline, dropping from 61 percent at proficiency or better last year to 58 percent this year.
At Bunnell Elementary, just 47 percent of 3rd graders cleared the threshold of proficiency in language arts, 52 percent of 4th graders did, and 45 percent of 5th graders did–several points below the state average in every grade.
All other 3rd graders in the district did well, with Old Kings Elementary topping the list at 74 percent followed by Rymfire at 68, Belle Terre at 64, Imagine at 61, and Wadsworth at 57–all of them matching or well exceeding the state average. Palm Harbor Academy’s 3rd graders came in at 47 percent, but that number is suspect because the charter school shifted weaker-performing students out of the testing batch and into what it termed a “private school” just before testing time. The school is battling the district for survival.
In 4th grade the numbers are weaker, with Imagine at 51 percent, Bunnell at 52, Rymfire at 54–all below the state average–and Old Kings, Belle Terre and Wadsworth exceeding the state average (Belle Terre was at 67). In 5th grade, Wadsworth’s students were actually at the lowest end, with 44 percent at proficiency or better, with Bunnell at 45 percent and the other schools in the 50s, with the exception of Belle Terre, at 66.
Middle school students lost one point, to 56 percent, and 9th and 10th graders gained a point, to 56 percent.
In math, the Florida Standard Assessment applies to students in grades 3 through 8. So for the totality of those students, Flagler again saw a decline of those at proficiency or better, by one point, from 65 percent in 2017 to 64 percent this year. The loss is concentrated in grades 3, 4 and 5, a category that saw its proficiency decline from 65 percent to 63 percent. Students in middle school held their own at 66 percent, and the average across the district still bested the state average by four points (the state average is 60 percent).
Statewide St. Johns students were by far the leaders in math as well, with 80 percent at proficiency or better, same as last year. Six districts saw 70 to 79 percent of their students at proficiency or better.
Locally in the 3rd grade, Bunnell saw 57 percent of its students at proficiency or better, five points below the state average. All other schools posted strong ratios–67 percent for Wadsworth, 69 for Belle Terre and Imagine, 70 for Rymfire, and 80 for Old Kings. Palm Harbor came in at 33. 4th grade scores are a bit weaker, ranging from 57 at Bunnell to 72 at Belle Terre, with just Old Kings and Belle Terre exceeding the state average. In fifth grade, Belle Terre alone exceeded the state average of 61, with a 64, Old Kings matched it, the other schools were below.
Beyond language arts and math, the Florida Standard Assessments also include a series of other courses–Algebra 1, Geometry, Biology, Civics, and U.S. History. The courses are not necessarily grade-specific. For example, while students are required to pass Algebra to graduate, most take it in grades 8 or 9, with testing offered three times during the year. A district release found that Algebra 1, Geometry, and US HIstory End of Course exam results were above the state percentage in passing grades.
In algebra, Flagler students exceeded the state average by six points in the spring, when the majority of students took the test. A few dozen more students took the test in winter and beat the state average by 14 points, and by 15 points in the fall testing batch.
In Biology, Flagler students did particularly well, exceeding the state average by six points in the spring assessment and 14 points in the winter assessment. None took it in the fall.
The district provided the following highlights (FSA is the acronym for Florida Standard Assessments, ELA for English Language Arts, EOC fore End-of-Course exam).
- Grades 3, 4, 6, 7, and 8 are above the state percentage passing non-EOC Mathematics FSA (scoring level 3 or higher).
- Grades 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 10 are above state percentage passing ELA FSA.
- Algebra 1, Geometry, and US HIstory EOC scores are above the state percentage passing
- Geometry is above the state percentage passing, and increased 7 percent over last year.
- Grade 8 Science is up 8 percentage points, and is 12% higher than the state average.
- Grade 5 Science increased by 3 percent.
- Grade 5 Science at Belle Terre Elementary jumped 15 percent.
- Grade 4 ELA at Wadsworth Elementary increased by 6 percent.
- Grade 8 Science at Buddy Taylor Middle is up 8%, Indian Trails Middle Grade 8 Science increased 12 percent.
- Geometry at Flagler-Palm Coast High is up 16 percent.
- Grade 9 ELA at Matanzas High went up 6 percent.
“I am very proud of our students, teachers, administrators, and parents for putting in the hard work this past year,” Flagler Schools Superintendent James Tager is quoted as saying in the release. “We never want to be satisfied but as we head into our next school year, I’m confident our students are primed to make additional gains.”
School is cool says
One of the major selling points about palm coast was the school system, with that in decline versus crime and drugs on the rise, well i have to say palm coast has lost all appeal, and with the considerations for tax increases on the horizon, well ……..
Maybe I’m missing something,but these percentages do not sound like flying colors to me ? Please explain if I’m mistaken. I am also interested in how many High School students drop out ? How many graduate and go on to higher education? Does anyone have any stats ?
It looks like sitting room only.
Agree. Palm Coast/Flagler is toast.
I’m curious why St Johns County always seems to be far and away the best county in the state. Why can’t it be replicated so schools/students score better?
And there you have it! “ The Nations Premier Learning Institution!
Go FLVS. Their numbers are pretty impressive considering their courses do not “teach to the test”, students have to self motivate, and parents are more involved. Maybe Flagler and other districts should take notes.
PC Dad says
A one or two percent drop in testing scores is not a decline. Tests change. Students change. Teachers change. The Flagler school system is strong and getting better.
As a parent to the Matanzas high school freshman student last year. I specifically applaud his Math teacher, Ms. Johnson, for keeping an open door policy to give extra help before and after school most days. Standardized test are not reliable gauge of true learning-never have been. The dedication shown by most of the teachers at Matanzas is hands-down top notch! Maybe instead of complaining about our schools and our city folks should roll up their sleeves!
University of Florida did a study, whether formal or informal l don’t know. It found the biggest determinant of continuity in standardized test scores is:…address. Interestingly, Ponte Vedra has 2 High Schools and many elementary, middle and private schools in St Johns county. Not taking anything away from their fine educational professionals, or those in Flagler, l’m just saying. And agree, a couple of points here and there are negligible, especially considering last year’s any graders are not this year’s. May be worth reporting this year’s grade levels to last year’s previous in each academic area.
Flagler County Citizen says
BeTheChange, Can you elaborate? I’m really interested in the way in which address affects education. I have always felt that distance to schools could be problematic. As our population continues to grow, it doesn’t just grow in the center of Palm Coast. It’s still centered there, but it’s sprawling around, and many students and their parents do not have easy access to activities. Is this what you are referring to? Thank you in advance!