Escambia, Santa Rosa performance dropping in almost all classes
Student performance in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties was down in almost every subject and grade this year compared to 2019, a drop that many school administrators feared amid learning challenges during the pandemic.
The Florida Department of Education recently released this Florida Statewide Assessment of the Year Grades, which measure student performance in different grade levels and major subjects. Staff from both districts are still working to analyze the data, but early information shows that COVID-19 has negatively impacted student learning in almost every class in the past school year.
“What we saw in the scores is that the COVID experience definitely had an impact (scores),” Escambia County School District Superintendent Tim Smith said. “There is a correlation between the lower test scores this year. The combination of COVID and blended learning and children being off campus and learning through electronic processes correlate with some numbers of low test scores.”
In a typical year, schools receive an overall alphabetical grade which is determined by the combination of students’ proficiency on tests and improvement over the past year. In addition to providing a quick overview of a school’s performance, grades also determine whether a poorly performing school needs state intervention.
But this year, the state did not give grades to individual schools so that districts would not face the consequences of poor performance during a hectic year when many students struggled with the distance learning. This means that this year, districts should rely on student assessment data for each grade in each school to get a gauge on last year.
English, or ELA, and math exams are taken by most grade levels in Florida. If a student passes an exam, that means they’ve scored a 3, 4, or 5 on statewide assessments.
Escambia County ELA Math Scores
Escambia County’s ELA score has dropped five percentage points this year. Students in Grades 3 through 10 who took the exam passed at a rate of just 44% this year, up from 49% in the last testing period in 2019. The state suspended testing in 2020 due to COVID-19.
The district’s ELA pass rate is well below the state average, which was 52% last year after falling 55% in 2019.
On the ELA exam, Oakcrest was the lowest performing non-chartered elementary school in Escambia County, with an average pass rate of just 15.4% over its three years that took the test. The best performer was Cordova Park with an average success rate of 77.7%.
The lowest performing non-chartered college was Bellview with an average pass rate of 21.7% while the best was Brown Barge with 79.7%.
For high schools, Escambia High was the worst performer with an average of 28% among the two classes that took the exam. West Florida is the top performer with an average of 67.5%
The district’s pass rate on the general math exam, which is passed by students in grades three to eight, has fallen by eight points this year. In total, 42% were successful this year compared to 50% in 2019.
However, the district’s decline was not as deep as the state’s. Florida’s general math exam pass rate fell 10 points from 61% to 51%.
The worst performing math primary school without a charter was the Global Learning Academy, with an average of 11% of students passing in the three years taking the exam. The best performing school was AK Suter with an average pass rate of 79%.
The lowest performing non-chartered college was Bellview with an average pass rate of 13.7% while the best was Brown Barge with 65.4%.
Science scores were down seven percentage points from 2019 for the fifth and eighth grade tests. The fifth year exam recorded a pass rate of 48%, while the eighth year exam registered only 35% pass.
Statewide, fifth-graders went from a pass rate of 53% to 47%, and eighth-graders went from 51% to 48%.
OJ Semmes has the lowest average pass rate in fifth grade tests while Cordova Park has the best with 79%. For the eighth year, the worst performers were Bellview and Warrington at 19%. The highest was 62% at Brown Barge.
The pass rate for civic education exams, taken by middle school students, fell to 49% this year, down from 54% in 2019. The lowest performing college was Workman with an average of 27% success this year and the best. was Brown Barge at 76%.
The US history exam, taken by high school students, fell four percentage points from 63% in 2019 to a pass rate of 59% this year. The lowest performing school in the district on this test was Pine Forest with 42% pass while West Florida was the best with 86%.
Across Florida, the civic education pass rate increased from 71% to 64%. The history of the United States has gone from 69% to 63%.
Smith said staff are still analyzing all data to find potential patterns in student learning losses.
“I think there’s another element there as well, and that’s a distribution that happens when a child moves from one setting to another, contact tracing or quarantining where the kids were working on campus and then they had to go home because of quarantine issues and then they come back after that time, “he said.” This back and forth movement can be very difficult for students. “
Santa Rosa County ELA, Math Scores
While pass rates this year at many levels were lower than the 2019 numbers, there were some bright spots in Santa Rosa County.
The district ranked first in the state for eighth grade math scores with a 69% pass rate. Superintendent Karen Barber also said her district scored above the state average in all areas of the tests.
“I’m happy with our performance this year but I’m not happy which means we want to keep improving,” said Barber.
The ELA pass rate has increased from 66% in 2019 to 60% this year.
The lowest performing elementary school in ELA was Baghdad, with an average pass rate of 44.4% among the three classes taking the exam. The best school was Gulf Breeze with 83% pass.
For colleges, the worst performing was Martin Luther King with an average pass rate of 40.7%. The best scores came from Gulf Breeze Middle with an average of 72%.
The high school with the lowest average ELA pass rate was Jay at 40.5% while the highest is at Gulf Breeze at 69%.
Math has also seen a decrease in Santa Rosa County this year, from 71% to 68%.
The elementary with the lowest average score was Baghdad with a pass rate of 39% and Gulf Breeze was the highest at 87.4%. The college at the bottom was Martin Luther King with an average of 34.6% while Gulf Breeze was at the top with 71.3%
Grade 5 science grades went from a pass rate of 71% to a pass rate of 66%. The worst science score in grade five came from Central School with a pass rate of 23%, while the best was Gulf Breeze with 84%.
Overall, the district’s eighth grade science scores declined from 72% to 66%. Hobbs Middle was the lowest rated school with 44% and Gulf Breeze led with 80%
“They are really where we expected them to be,” said Superintendent Karen Barber. “We have seen a decline in student performance in some of our schools. Most of these drops have occurred in our schools where we have the highest level of poverty and when you are facing financial challenges, which makes it even more difficult more difficult for families to cope with disasters or a global pandemic. “
Civics education and US history fared much better in the district. Students maintained the same 75% pass rate in civic education as in 2019, and the US history rate declined 1% from 77% to 76%.
Avalon Middle had the best civic education score with 81% success while Central School had the lowest with 56%. Gulf Breeze High had the highest score in US history with 85% pass while the adult academy was the lowest at 31%.
Barber said administrators were analyzing assessment scores statewide to better inform decisions about education next year.
“We want to make sure that our core curricula are strong and that we have the highest quality of education in these core areas, but we also want to be able to provide that intervention and support to students whose data shows that ‘they need more intervention and instruction,’ Barber said.
Madison Arnold can be reached at [email protected] and 850-435-8522.
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