Florida releases final FSA achievement rates, with St. Johns County leading the pack

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Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill earlier this year bringing to an end the Florida Standards Assessments, but the scores for the last round were released this week and they show St. Johns County at or near the top of most subjects.

Flagler County, on most scores, is slightly ahead of the state average, while to the south, Volusia County is lagging behind the state in most courses.

St. Johns County Superintendent of Schools Tim Forson was pleased with the results.

"I hope that it's a source of pride for the community because, you know, it speaks obviously to the students first and their performance, but to the teachers and their commitment to their children and, of course, the families that value it," he said Friday morning. "I think that our ability to continue to perform well is really about a community that's committed to education."

Forson said he thinks another part of the success is teachers and other officials in the district work with a collaborative and supportive mindset.

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DeSantis and Manny Diaz Jr., the state's new education commissioner, touted gains in social studies and civics statewide.

“Every single Florida teacher, student, and parent should be proud of the progress we’ve made over the last year,” Diaz said in a news release. “As a department, we’re looking forward to building on this great work through the many learning initiatives and improvements on the horizon.”

Here is a breakdown of how the three local districts performed against the state average and as compared with the previous year in various subjects. To dive further into the data, visit data.staugustine.com/school/fsa

English language arts, grades 3-10

St. Johns students outperformed the state in every grade, with ninth-graders scoring 26 points ahead of the statewide score, 51%.

A lower percentage of Volusia students scored a 3 or above than the statewide percentage in every grade level. Volusia's 2021-22 scores also dropped from the previous, pandemic-disrupted year, in four of the eight grades tested (three-10), with just one grade level, sixth, improving. The other three scored the same.

Also in English, Flagler students' scores dropped year-to-year in six of the eight grades, but six of the eight grades still performed better than the state.

Instead of FCAT, students will be taking brand new tests on the extremely challenging Florida Standards Assessment, aka Common Core Standards.
Instead of FCAT, students will be taking brand new tests on the extremely challenging Florida Standards Assessment, aka Common Core Standards.

Mathematics, grades 3-8

In mathematics, Flagler and St. Johns outpaced the state on every grade level, with scores improving in most grades from the prior year.

In Volusia, scores rose statewide in every grade level, three through eight.

Advanced math

In Algebra I, which is offered in several grade levels, 77% of St. Johns County students earned a score of 3 or above. That far outpaced the state, at 54%, and Flagler, also 54%, while Volusia lagged behind with 42%. The Volusia score was an improvement from 38% from the year before.

In geometry, the state's achievement level improved five points, moving to 50%. Year-over-year gains were also seen in Flagler and St. Johns counties, but Volusia saw its percentage drop five points, to 40% in 2021-22.

Science and social studies

Science is a category in which Volusia students shined. In Volusia, 57% of students in grade five earned a 3 or more, scoring 9 percentage points better than the state. Flagler (52%) and St. Johns (69%) also outpaced students across Florida. Among eighth-graders, all three districts had higher achievement levels than the state's 48%.

The same pattern held for Biology I, with 84% of St. Johns students achieving the 3-plus score — the best among Florida's 67 counties.

In civics — combining the scores of all students in grades six through eight — 69% across Florida scored 3 or above. St. Johns came in at 90%, with Flagler following at 73% and Volusia at 63%.

And St. Johns led the state's county districts in U.S. history, with 85% reaching the 3-plus score. The state score was 65%, up slightly from 63% in the prior year. Both Volusia and Flagler counties had 60% achievement, both down from 62% the year before.

DeSantis held a press conference in Sanford on Thursday to promote his emphasis on boosting civics and social studies knowledge among Florida students.

“Our students and teachers have worked hard to elevate their civics excellence and are proving to the nation that Florida is the national model for cultivating great citizens," DeSantis said.

Diaz, a DeSantis appointee, concurred.

“A strong civics education is foundational to the American experience,” he said. “Today’s scores highlight the improvements our students have made in becoming more informed and involved citizens."

This article originally appeared on St. Augustine Record: FSA scores 2022: St. Johns County schools lead in Florida FSA testing