By Janet Bradley
On Thursday, July 29, 2021, the Florida Department of Education released results for the Spring 2021 Florida Standards Assessment (FSA) for English Language Arts (ELA) grades 3-10, mathematics grades 3-8 and science grades 5 and 8. In addition, the state released results for End of Course (EOC) exams in Algebra I, Geometry, Biology, US History, and Civics. Students were not given assessments in 2020 due to school closures because of the COVID pandemic, so this was the first glimpse of student achievement from the state level since 2019.
The Florida Standards Assessments measure student achievement of the Florida Standards which are the frameworks for all ELA and math courses K-12. Science and social studies assessments measure student achievement of the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards which are outlined in their course descriptions. Student scores are divided into achievement levels on a scale of 1-5. Students scoring a Level 3 are considered satisfactory and may need substantial support for the next grade level or course. A Level 4 indicated the student is proficient and likely to excel in the next grade level or course. If a student scores Level 5 mastery has been reached and they are likely to excel in the next grade level or course. Level 1 and 2 are considered inadequate and below satisfactory, respectively.
District wide, in grades 3-10, 60% of students scored Level 3 or above on the English Language Arts assessment. In mathematics grades 3-8 and End of Course mathematics exams, 68% of students scored Level 3 or above on the assessments. Science students scoring Level 3 and above was 68% in fifth grade, 68% in eighth grade, and 81% on the Biology End of Course Exam. In the social studies area, 85% of the students in the district scored Level 3 or above on the middle school civics exam, and 76% of students score Level 3 or above on the US History exam.
Gilchrist County students scored above state average on the state assessments except for Bell High School 9th grade ELA. Trenton Elementary 3rd grade scored right at state average in ELA. Although Gilchrist County’s scores are above state average in many areas, there were assessed grade levels that dropped 1-19 points in the ELA area, and 1-20 points in mathematics. Scores dropped across the state in 2021 in some districts and educators are stating the fact that schools were closed for two months in 2020 and students were participating in online instruction. Schools in Florida were open the entire year in 2020 and some students continued to participate in the online instruction model. Dropped scores are also being attributed to some students and teachers being quarantined at various times during the 2020-2021 school year due to COVID.
Some of the highest scores in the district were in the areas of science and social studies. At Bell Elementary 73% of the fifth graders scored Level 3 or above, and at Bell High School 78% of Biology students scored Level 3 or above, 99% scored Level 3 above on the middle school civics exam, and 83% of the students score Level 3 or above on the US History exam. At Trenton High School 81% of the Biology students and 74% of the middle school civics students scored Level 3 or above on the exam.
Gilchrist County School District has been a high performing district for many years and continues this tradition as evident of current scores. Superintendent Jim Surrency and Assistant Superintendent Darby Allen stated, “We are very pleased with our scores overall. It was definitely the toughest year education has had to face. In spite of the pandemic, our employees, students, and families gave it all they had to ensure Gilchrist County maintained the high level of academic excellence we’ve all come to expect. We will definitely be celebrating our acscomplishments as we move into this school year, but will also be taking a deep look at areas where we still need improvement. We are proud of everyone for their accomplishments!”
Department of Education Releases 2021 School Assessment Results
By Janet Bradley