Miami, Broward school districts see gains in FSA results, but large numbers are not passing

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Miami-Dade and Broward school district students performed better on this year’s annual statewide exams compared to last year’s, but only slightly more than half of the students earned a passing score of Level 3 or higher in English and math.

On science exams, fewer than half of the students in fifth through eighth grades earned a passing grade.

The Florida Department of Education released the results this week for the Florida Standards Assessments (FSA) taken in the spring.

The highest marks were in civics and U.S. History. In a news release Thursday, Gov. Ron DeSantis, who’s made civics education a top priority, said, “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.” The governor touted the state’s achievement during a press event Thursday in Sanford.

READ MORE: Miami-Dade and Broward schools’ report card: Learning losses, mental health, test scores

Test results reflect in-person classes, not remote learning

This year’s FSA exams, which measure student performance in English language arts, mathematics, social studies and science, represent an entire school year in the classroom following the two-year period where many students learned remotely because of the pandemic.

Third-grade reading assessment results — which showed slight increases in Broward and slight decreases in Miami-Dade — were released last month.

Miami-Dade and Broward school district students performed better on this year’s annual statewide FSA exams. The results represent the first year of in-person classes after two years of remote learning for many students.
Miami-Dade and Broward school district students performed better on this year’s annual statewide FSA exams. The results represent the first year of in-person classes after two years of remote learning for many students.

“These are the first test results for students with 100% in-person learning since before the pandemic. We are excited by our students’ achievements and are proud of the dedication of our teachers, administrators and staff in ensuring our students have the resources and support necessary to succeed,” Broward County schools Superintendent Vickie Cartwright said in a news release announcing English language arts and math results.

Still, she added, “we will continue to analyze these results as we maintain our focus on accelerating learning and providing strategic academic interventions for our students.”

Young students see largest jumps in English

In English language arts, the biggest improvement for both districts was at the elementary level.

In Broward County, 57% of third- through fifth-grade students earned a passing score, an increase of 4 percentage points from 2021. Miami-Dade elementary students earning a Level 3 or above jumped from 56% in 2021 to 59% this year.

In middle school, district scores in English remained the same as last year, with 52% of students earning a passing grade in Broward and 54% in Miami-Dade. In high school, 51% of high schoolers in Broward earned a Level 3 or above, the same as last year. In Miami-Dade, 53% of students in grades ninth through 12th earned a Level 3 or above, up from 51% the year prior.

When assessing all students in grades three through 10, both districts improved 1 percentage point from last year and surpassed the state’s score of 52%. In Broward County, 53% of students in those grades earned Level 3 or above, up from 52% in 2021. In Miami-Dade, 55% earned a passing grade, up from 54% last year, records show.

READ MORE: Teachers alarmed by state’s infusing religion, downplaying race in civics training

Algebra, geometry show mixed results

Scores for all math exams in grades three through eight improved by 9 percentage points in both districts, records show.

In Broward, the percent of students who earned a passing score in these grades in math jumped from 45% in 2021 to 54% this year, while Miami-Dade increased from 48% to 57%. The state’s average was 55%.

But scores among grade levels varied for algebra and geometry exams.

On Algebra 1 exams, 83% of Broward students grade eight and below earned a passing grade of 3 or higher, up from 70% last year. Among high school students, though, just 28% earned a Level 3 or above, up from 23% in 2021.

Advanced math students will take Algebra 1 in middle school so they can take Advanced Placement math classes in high school.

In Miami-Dade, 85% of students grade eight and below scored a passing grade of 3 or higher in Algebra 1, up from 71% last year, but just 34% of high school students did. Last year, just 31% of students in grades nine through 12 did.

READ MORE: Just more than half of Miami-Dade, Broward third-graders at reading level, tests show

Similar results played out with geometry scores.

Ninety-one percent of students grades eight and below in Broward earned a passing score on the geometry exam, increasing from 87% last year. But in high school, only 37% of students earned a Level 3 or above. Last year, 31% of high school students passed.

In Miami-Dade, the percent of students grades eight and below that scored a passing score jumped from 80% in 2021 to 88% this year. At the high school level, just 41% of students passed, up from 34% last year.

Civics, U.S history see high marks

In Broward County, 68 percent of the students in grades three through eight earned a passing grade in civics this year, jumping 10 percentage points from 2021. Miami-Dade boosted its score by 9 percentage points, jumping from 62% last year to 71% this year.

U.S. History scores also showed improvements. Broward jumped from 56% in 2021 to 63% this year, while 66% of Miami-Dade students earned a Level 3 or above, up from 59% last year.

The state’s average in civics and U.S. History is 69% and 65%, respectively.

Science had the lowest scores

Though there was improvement from last year, the lowest scores were seen on statewide science assessments, records show. Overall, fewer than half of the state’s fifth and eighth grade students — 48% — earned a passing grade.

In Broward County, 44% of fifth graders earned a Level 3 or above, up from 40% last year. In Miami-Dade, 49% of students did, up from 43%.

In eighth grade, which includes statewide science and biology exam results, 49% of students in both districts earned a passing grade, up from 45% in Broward and 47% in Miami-Dade in the year prior.

When accounting just for biology, results were higher. In Broward, 58% of students passed, the same as 2021, while 62%did in Miami-Dade, up from 61% last year.

READ MORE: Graduation rate up in Miami-Dade schools; Broward schools report slight decline in 2020-21

The pandemic’s lingering impact

Learning losses was a top concern for officials in both districts this past year as they welcomed all students back to the classroom for the first time since March 2020. Both Cartwright and Miami-Dade Superintendent Jose Dotres have emphasized the initiatives their district has implemented to offset any unfinished learning.

READ MORE: ‘I can’t wait to go back to school — remote learning and the harm it has done to our kids

Some of those programs included robust summer school offerings in both districts last summer and hiring additional teachers to address specific areas of concern, such as reading and math.

In a news release this week, Miami-Dade schools recognized the “myriad of strategies” that were deployed to address learning losses, noting that they “proved to be successful in aiding academic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Broward Cypress Bay High School students enter campus as they returned to school under a school board mask mandate on Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021. The 2021-2022 school year in Miami-Dade and Broward was the first year back to classroom learning for all students, after two years of remote learning for many students due to the pandemic.
Broward Cypress Bay High School students enter campus as they returned to school under a school board mask mandate on Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021. The 2021-2022 school year in Miami-Dade and Broward was the first year back to classroom learning for all students, after two years of remote learning for many students due to the pandemic.

For her part, following Thursday’s release of the social studies and science results, Cartwright, again in a news release, said the improvements were a collective effort from teachers, administration, staff and the “hard work of our students.”

“Our strategic focus on accelerating early learning and providing academic interventions is creating strong educational foundations for our students,” she said. “We will analyze where the gains were made as we prepare for the upcoming school year.”

This story was updated to reflect the correct percent of Miami-Dade students who earned a Level 3 in U.S. History and Biology.

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