Polk County Public Schools showed mixed results in Florida Standards Assessment (FSA) data released late Friday by the Florida Department of Education.
“We saw gains in English Language Arts and History, and a big jump in Geometry, but opportunities for growth in several other subject areas,” said Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd.
“The FSA is just one of many ways we measure student performance. While there is much more to our district than FSA scores, these results are useful insights as we move forward and make decisions about where to strategically focus our resources to best support students.”
Students receive a score of 1-5 on the FSA. A score of 3 or above is considered proficient.
According to the FLDOE:
- 47 percent of Polk County Public Schools students in grades 3-10 scored a 3 or better on the FSA English Language Arts exam, an increase from 46 percent in 2018.
- 54 percent of students earned a 3 or higher on the FSA Geometry end-of-course exam, up from 41 percent the year prior.
- 58 percent of students taking the FSA U.S. History end-of-course exam scored 3 or better, up from 57 percent in 2018.
- 48 percent of students in grades 3-8 scored a 3 or higher on the Math exam, down from 51 percent the year before.
- On the FSA Algebra 1 end-of-course exam, 51 percent of students scored a 3 or better, down from 65 percent the previous year.
- 45 percent of fifth-grade students scored 3 or higher on the FSA Science assessment, down from 51 percent last year.
- 41 percent of eighth-grade students scored 3 or higher on the FSA Science assessment, down from 42 percent a year ago.
- 54 percent of students taking the FSA Biology end-of-course exam scored 3 or higher, down from 60 percent in 2018.
- 70 percent of students taking the FSA Civics end-of-course exam scored a 3 or better, down from 84 percent the year prior.
In Algebra 1, Biology and Civics, PCPS expected to see a drop. The 2018 results reflected the impact of course progression changes that allow students more time to prepare for the state assessment.
For example, in Civics, students now take World History in sixth grade, U.S. History in seventh grade and Civics in eighth grade. Previously, students took Civics in seventh grade.
The course progression changes were made after examining testing data and consulting with teachers and subject area specialists. The two biggest advantages of the course progression changes: Students have more time to build their knowledge base and the reading skills they need to be successful on the FSA.
After a boost in 2018, immediately following the course progression changes, a dip in scores was expected.
However, the course progression changes allow students more time to prepare and will lead to higher and sustained student achievement. For context, prior to the course progression changes, Algebra 1 proficiency was 47 percent, Civics proficiency stood at 62 percent, and Biology proficiency was 51 percent, all below 2019 levels.
“We made the course progression changes because they are in the best interest of students,” Byrd said. “We knew we’d have a dip this year, but we’re giving our students the time they need to prepare for the state tests. That’s what matters most.”
“Regardless of the outcome of any test or assessment, we have incredible, dedicated teachers and staff who are committed to ensuring that each day in school moves all students closer to success in academics, careers and life.”