It’s not a surprise: just 59 percent of third graders in Flagler County scored a satisfactory level 3 or better on the Florida Standards Assessment in reading last schoolyear, a nine-point drop from 2019, the last time the tests were administered, and one point below the six-year low of 60 in 2015. (There was no test in 2020 because of the pandemic.)
The lower scores were expected: Just 78 percent of third graders attended school in person last year because of the coronavirus pandemic. The rest attended through the remote-live option or through virtual school. Lack of face-to-face interaction with teachers was documented to have a negative effect on students’ performances. “It’s not like our teachers forgot how to teach,” Jason Wheeler, the district’s spokesperson said today. Parents, students and the district could take a little solace in the fact that Flagler still exceeded the state average by five points. The state average itself fell by four points over the previous testing group.
St. Johns County schools was by far and away the most successful district, with 78 percent of third graders at a 3 or better. No other district so much as broke the 70 percent mark.
“I believe this shows how important face-to-face instruction is for our students,” Superintendent Cathy Mittelstadt said in a release. “Just 78% of our 3rd graders were physically in a classroom this past spring. Fortunately, we have identified students in need of additional supports, and many of them are now taking part in our Summer Reading Program.” Some 1,000 students are currently enrolled in that program.
But it wasn’t a given that the remote options meant lower scores. If anything, it was the reverse: Statewide, 60 percent of virtual and 56 percent of so-called innovative students (like Flagler’s remote-live option) achieved a 3 or better, while 54 percent of in-person students did. And more students–23 percent–scored a Level 1 while attending school in person than learning remote (only 17 percent of those learning through virtual school did, and 21 percent of those learning live-remote did.)
Level 5 means “mastery”–the student is “highly likely to excel in the next grade,” according to a description of the five levels by the Floirida Department of Education. Level 4, “proficient,” means the student is likely to excel. Level 3 is mere proficiency: the student “may need additional support for the next grade.” Level 2 is “below satisfactory,” requiring substantial support for the next grade. And Level 1 is “inadequate,” with the student “highly likely to need substantial support for the next grade.”
There were significant disparities within the Flagler district. Seventy percent of students at Belle Terre Elementary were at a 3 or above, but just 42 percent were proficient at Bunnell Elementary, where 30 percent scored a 1. At Old Kings Elementary, 67 percent were at a 3 or better. Old Kings had the highest proportion of students scoring a 5, at 12 percent (Belle Terre was at 9 percent). Imagine at Town Center, the charter school, saw 59 percent of its students scoring a 3 or better. Rymfire was at 56, and Wadsworth at 55. In iFlagler, 68 percent of the 44 students who took the test scored a 3 or better.
LaShakia Moore, Flagler Schools incoming Director of Teaching and Learning says the district is already addressing the challenges some of our students face following the 2020-21 school year. “With our students back in our buildings,” she said, “I am confident that through explicit, systematic instruction and progress monitoring implemented by our highly qualified educators, our students will regain the momentum we experienced pre-Covid.”
Statewide in 2021, African American and Hispanic student performance at Level 3 and above decreased by 3 percentage points (54 to 51 and 40 to 37), respectively), while white student performance decreased by 4 percentage points (71 to 67).
Obviously, the solution is to throw more money at the problem rather than for the kids to actually open a book & read ? Considering this fact, functional literacy isn’t an encouraging future for the FL education system.
“Statewide in 2021, African American and Hispanic student performance at Level 3 and above decreased by 3 percentage points (54 to 51 and 40 to 37), respectively), while white student performance decreased by 4 percentage points (71 to 67).”
There was absolutely no mention of the fact that remote students who were failing in January were asked to return to in-person classes. 🙄 Students who were remote for close to a year flooded classrooms in January! Due to the fact these students were considered in-person students at the time of the state test, their results were reported as such, meaning this category took the hit. Please get these facts straight on behalf of the teachers and administrators who worked hard to get those formerly remote students caught up and reacclimatized to learning.
We’re witnessing a tragedy here. These kids have been sacrificed and that has got to change. If St. John’s can do it, why can’t Flagler? We cannot afford to leave anyone behind. These kids are our most precious resource, our future, every one of them.
These numbers are very bad. It’s most likely linked to COVID impacts, which is understandable, but our drop was one of the largest of all counties in Florida and is unacceptable, especially considering other districts in our region managed to keep it together. And the school system is going to show up and ask for a half penny sales tax again…you saw how that conversation went over at PC City Council.
James M. Mejuto says
Re: Jimmy says: NO ! . . . It’s not related to ” COVID impacts.”
It’s simply a retreat from our schools, home learning and common sense.
Parents have to own-up to their responsibility, limit iPhone access and
encourage reading time . . . the classics and contemporary authors.
James M. Mejuto
James M. Mejuto says
It’s depressing the reading scores of third graders . . . but did we expect anything different?
Parents who refuse to limit their child’s access to the iPhone may be one reason. Another, would be
an indifferent belief in our schools . . . parents who in many cases have never had an education
with no appreciation of the work that goes into educating their students.
Many people believe it’s time to set aside the iPhone for actual book reading time: the classics that stirred
the imagination of the world around us.
But hell ! How does that compare to Tik Tok!
A lot of the failure can be contributed to the ability of the parents to school their kids when it was necessary and to if it was identified for distance learning while this pandemic was upon us. . . Instead they just left them at home, with their computer games and TV and phones. Take away the games, the TV and the phones and maybe just maybe these kids will get the message or the parents will be placed into a roll of bailing out their kids for the rest of their lives. Well did we expect any other outcome !.
IFlagler were kids in the virtual school at home and 68 scored proficient right up there with Belle Terre. However remember this test was given on two days and really shows how the kids did on those two days and a lot can effect how an 8 year old performs on any two days especially stress.
is this part of Florida heading back to its low state rating education status