Third graders improve passing rate on Florida Standards Assessment reading test
Florida's third graders had a higher percentage passing the state language arts test this spring than last, the second consecutive increase on the annual exam that helps determine whether children move into fourth grade.
This spring, 58 percent earned a score of 3 or higher statewide, up from 54 percent a year ago.
In the Tampa Bay area, Hernando and Pasco County students surpassed the state passing rate, with 61 percent and 60 percent, respectively. The Hillsborough and Pinellas districts both had 56 percent passing.
The highest passage rate in Florida came in St. Johns County, with 80 percent, while the lowest rate came in DeSoto County, with 31 percent.
In Pinellas, the scores show a steady increase in the districtwide average over the last three years. This year, 56 percent of third graders earned a score of 3 or higher compared to 53 percent last year and 52 percent in 2015. Schools in the new Transformation Zone, which get extra support, still were among the lowest-performing schools in Pinellas. Of the eight schools, half improved their scores. The others dropped. High Point, Maximo and Lakewood elementary schools had the strongest improvement. Midtown Academy, a former charter school that Pinellas took over last year, had a significant drop in passing rates, to 10 percent of third graders from 22 percent last year. Their performance was among the worst in the state.
Third graders who do not earn a passing score still may be promoted if they receive one of six good cause exemptions, which include a passing score on an alternate test or a portfolio demonstrating they have met the standards. This year, 19 percent of students received a Level 1 score and face retention, compared to 22 percent last year.
Some parents sued several school districts and the state over the application of the third-grade retention law in August. Their initial victory in Leon County circuit court was overturned on appeal, and now is before the Florida Supreme Court for consideration on venue issues.
More details to come.