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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 Volusia County lagging behind the state in most courses.
Flagler County, on most scores, is slightly ahead of the state average, while just to the north, St. Johns County was at or near the top of most subjects.
DeSantis and Manny Diaz Jr., the state's new education commissioner, touted gains in social studies and civics statewide.
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“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, click here.
English language arts, grades 3-10
A lower percentage of Volusia students scored a 3 or above than the statewide percentage in every single grade level. Volusia's 2021-22 scores also dropped from the previous, pandemic-disrupted year, in four of the eight grades tested (3-10), with just one grade level, 6th, 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. St. Johns students outperformed the state in every grade, with 9th graders scoring 26 points ahead of the statewide score, 51%.
Mathematics, grades 3-8
In mathematics, scores rose statewide in every grade level, 3 through 8. Volusia saw gains year-to-year in 2021-22, in five of those six grades, but just 26% of Volusia eighth graders scored a 3 or above, well behind the state score, 42%.
Flagler and St. Johns outpaced the state on every grade level, with scores improving in most grades from the prior year.
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 5 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 6 through 8 — 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."
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This article originally appeared on The Daytona Beach News-Journal: Volusia schools rank behind Florida average in FSA testing