By Patricia Levesque, Executive Director.

Earlier today, the Florida Department of Education released 2019 statewide Florida Standards Assessment (FSA) results, and thanks to thousands of dedicated teachers across our state, there’s good news to share.

The average percentage of students scoring on grade level (Level 3 or above) on the English Language Arts FSA in grades 3-10 increased again this year, with sixth graders seeing the most improvement of three percentage points.

The results also show overall increases in the percentage of students scoring grade level or higher on the FSA math assessment.

Here are three takeaways from this year’s assessments and what they mean for students and families:

 

1. Teachers Have More Time to Teach: Back in 2016, I had the opportunity to meet with public school educators across the state.

They were candid on how to improve testing, which included moving statewide assessments to the end of the year to allow more instructional time before the test and giving teachers (and parents) more meaningful information on each student’s test results.

Lawmakers listened!

In the very next legislative session, they passed reforms to move assessments later in the school year. They also ensured that teachers received those test results for both their current and incoming students.

That legislation took full effect this past school year, giving teachers more time to teach and students more time to learn. The score reports for each exam provide more detail on a student’s strengths and areas for improvement, which is essential information for both teachers and parents.

 

2. Early Literacy: Even though Florida has drastically improved early literacy during the last two decades, there is still more to be done.

I was happy to see the percentage of third graders scoring a Level 3 or higher on their English Language Arts assessment increased again this year.

However, these results also show that one in every five Florida third graders is still reading severely below grade level.

The research is clear that when students are not able to read by the end of third grade their risk of failing behind grows exponentially.

We must do more to ensure every child has the instruction and tools to become a lifelong reader.

 

3. Keeping Expectations High: This school year was been exceptionally tough for families in Florida’s Panhandle during Hurricane Michael and its devastating aftermath.

As communities work hard at rebuilding, teachers and school leaders have been making a tremendous effort to prevent the catastrophic event from derailing the education of thousands of K-12 Panhandle students.

District-level data shows that the hardest hit district – Bay County – maintained overall academic achievement levels and in one area even significantly increased them. On English Language Arts assessments in grades 3 through 10, the percentage of these students scoring a Level 3 or higher rose by four percentage points.

The incredible results this year from Bay County students and teachers are a vivid reminder that all students, no matter where they come from or what challenges they must overcome, can learn and succeed.

To dive into Florida’s 2019 assessment data, visit the Florida Department of Education’s assessment webpage.