WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Students made substantial growth throughout the school year, including 42% in some subjects, in the Florida Department of Education's first Florida Assessment of Student Thinking after scrapping the Florida Standards Assessment.
With FAST, Florida is the first state in the nation to establish a system under progress monitoring with three tests administered during the year rather than yearly exams.
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The new computer-based exams had 35 to 40 questions that included lessons from throughout the year, even material teachers had not yet covered. The questions got easier or harder based on how the students responded.
The FSA, which debuted in 2015, graded in reading, writing, science and math tests on paper. Each exam had 55 to 66 questions.
Because of the change in testing, it's not possible to accurately compare results with the past year.
Raw tests score in both exam methods were grouped into five categories, with 3 a passing score.
In language arts, students passing in third to 10th grade rose from 33% to 39% to 50%. And in mathematics, scores for students in fifth through eighth grade increased from 14% to 32% to 56%.
“The significant gains made by our students this school year prove that progress monitoring is a success,” Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz, Jr. said in a news release. “Florida’s teachers were provided immediate feedback following each FAST administration and used that feedback to guide future instruction. I look forward to working with educators to build on these results as we establish a true annual comparison beginning next year.”
Among the six largest school districts, Palm Beach County was third.
In language arts, Miami-Dade led with 53% proficient, followed by Broward (52%), Palm Beach (50%), Orange (49%), Hillsborough (48%) and Duval (44%). The statewide average was 50%, which matched Palm Beach.
In math, Miami-Dade led with a 59% proficiency, followed by Broward (57%), Palm Beach and Orange (both 55%), Hillsborough (54%) and Duval (50%). The statewide average was 56%.
Palm Beach County and Miami-Dade were rated A last year with Broward getting a B. The state won't issue district and school grades until November.
"As a district, we celebrate the gains achieved and are digging deep into the student performance data to identify opportunities and strategies for improvement,” Mike Burke, superintendent for Palm Beach County schools,. “We remain committed to serving and supporting every student in the upcoming school year. I’m confident the experience gained from this first year of implementation will help foster greater success in the 2023-24 school year.”
In Palm Beach County, Treasure Coast and Okeechobee students made progress in each of the tests.
In language arts, Martin County (51%) and Indian River (52%) exceeded the state's 50% average.
In math, Martin County (58%) and Indian River (60%) also exceeded the state's 56% average.
“It is abundantly clear from a review of the data that the SDIRC continues to be an exemplar for the State on providing the instructional quality and supports needed to realize continuous improvement for the benefit of students," David K. Moore, Indian River superintendent, said. "Our school teams, district teams and students are to be commended and celebrated for their unwavering expectations and work that contributed to the current outcomes.”
State language arts: 33% to 39% to 50%
Palm Beach County: 35% to 40% to 50%
St. Lucie: 28% to 34% to 45%
Martin: 32% to 39% to 51%
Indian River: 32% to 38% to 52%
Okeechobee: 24% to 28% to 39%
State math: 14% to 32% to 56%
Palm Beach County: 13% to 31% to 55%
St. Lucie: 10% to 25% to 48%
Martin: 14% to 32% to 58%
Indian River: 9% to 31% to 60%
Okeechobee: 14% to 27% to 47%
Broken down by grade in language, Palm Beach County exceeded the state in fourth grade (58% vs. 50%), seventh grade (48% vs. 47%), ninth grade (48% vs. 47%). They both were 47% in eighth grade and 50% in 10th grade. The state was higher in third grade (50% vs. 48%), fifth grade (58% vs. 56%), sixth grade (54% vs. 45).
Broken down by grade in math, Palm Beach County exceeded the state in fifth grade (56% vs. 55% and eighth grade (44% vs. 34%). They both were 54% in sixth grade. The state was higher in third grade (59% vs. 57%), fourth grade (61% vs. 52%) and seventh grade (48% vs. 36%).
The Board of Education noted some demographic achievements.
African-American students increased performance throughout the year by 34% in Grades 3-8 mathematics, 16% in Grades 3-10 language arts.
Hispanic students increased performance throughout the year by 42% in Grades 3-8 mathematics and 17% in Grades 3-10 language arts.
Students from economically disadvantaged families increased performance throughout the year by 39% in Grades 3-8 mathematics and 16% in Grades 3-10 language arts.
Science assessment scores, as well as end-of-course exam scores for all other subjects were also released.
Beginning in Spring 2024, the Biology 1, Civics and U.S. History statewide assessments, as well as the Grade 5 and Grade 8 Science assessments, will be delivered in a computer-based format to allow for real-time and immediate scoring.
Complete results, including for schools, is available on the department's website.