MORE PBC STUDENTS PASSED FLORIDA’S READING AND MATH EXAMS THIS YEAR
Palm Beach County public school students passed the state’s math and language-arts exams at higher rates this year, including the two exams required to graduate high school, newly released test scores show.
The county’s improvements on the Florida Standards Assessments outpaced growth across the state overall, an encouraging sign for the county’s schools after two years of tepid progress on the state’s standardized exams.
The county’s passing rate on the state language-arts exams rose by two points to 56 percent, while the passing rate on the math exams rose by two points to 63 percent.
On both sets of tests, the county’s passing rate bested the statewide rate by two points. Statewide, students improved by a single point on each set of exams.
The results marked a reversal from a year ago, when the state’s improvements outpaced the county’s.
Deputy Schools Superintendent Keith Oswald said educators were excited by the rising scores, which he said helped to vindicate some of the educational reforms put in place beginning in 2015 under former Superintendent Robert Avossa.
“I think it’s the things that we’ve done over the last few years,” Oswald said. “We haven’t done anything significantly different (this year). It’s the continuous focus, the continuous improvement. Things are taking root.”
In nearly three years in office, Avossa reorganized the regional offices that supervise schools; called for teachers to hold regular team meetings; required all elementary students to receive reading tutoring through a new, adaptive software program called iReady; and pushed more resources directly to some of the poorest schools. He resigned this year for a private sector job.
Administrators also pressured schools to fully embrace strategies that would help struggling readers improve, such as having two instructors in classrooms during reading time and more effective teaching in small groups.
The FSA exams are taken by students from third grade through 10th grade. This year marked the fourth time students took the FSA exams, which replaced the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test in 2015 as Florida put in place a new set of Common Core-aligned academic standards.
The improvements held for the two exams that student generally must pass to graduate high school.
The passing rate for the algebra 1 exam rose by two points to 63 percent, while the passing rate for the 10th-grade language-arts test jumped four points to 55 percent.
On the 10th-grade language-arts test, some of the biggest gains were at Lake Worth High School, where the passing rate rose by eight points to 29 percent, and Seminole Ridge High, where the passing rate rose by 11 points to 60 percent.
While both tests are considered graduation requirements, students can graduate by passing equivalent tests.
Test scores for counties and individual schools are available on the state Department of Education’s website.