Florida 3rd grade reading scores jumped up in 2017

Reading proficiency scores by Sarasota County third-graders improved by three percentage points over a year ago in state testing results released Friday by the school district.

The State Department of Education reports 58 percent of the 228,104 students who took the test this year gained at least a “satisfactory” score.

More than 43,000 students are in that category this year, although many can still advance with higher scores on other tests or by demonstrating proficiency through classwork.

St. Johns County, south of Jacksonville, had the highest percentage, with 80 percent of third-graders reading at Level 3.

“Overall, I would not declare success with a 1 percentage point increase”, he said, “but I am glad that we continued to show another year of improvement in third-grade reading, considering how low this cohort was at the beginning of the year and at mid-year”.

The largest increase by a northeast Florida district was in Columbia County, where the 63 percent passing was up 8 points from 2016.

“District staff, principals, third-grade teachers, and interventionists worked hard and strategically to narrow that gap”, he said.

Statewide, 19 percent of third graders scored at level 1 this year and face retention, though typically about half the students with level 1 scores move to fourth grade anyway.

Palm View Elementary had the largest increase in the number of students reading at level 3 or better, with a 16.5 percent increase. Nassau County came in at 78 percent, followed by Santa Rosa’s 74 percent and Gilchrist at 72 percent.

Palmetto Charter School had the highest rate in the county, with 89 percent of the 36 students who took the test scoring at grade level.

A half-dozen districts reported declines in passing rates, with the biggest drop in Gadsden County, which had a 34 percent passing rate.

DeSoto County had the lowest passing rate in the state at 31 percent, while Hamilton County was next-lowest at 32 percent.

He predicted that future third graders will have an easier time passing state tests because they’ll have more materials teaching phonics and more grade-level reading books in kindergarten through second grade. Since converting to the FSA system in 2015, she said, reading comprehension tests are more rigorous. FSA scores are among the many metrics factored into district ratings.