ACPS touts higher than expected test scores

Classroom concept with books, pencils on table in front of chalk board
Classroom concept with books, pencils on table in front of chalk board

The irregular 2020-21 school year prompted angst over a “COVID slide” for students, but Alachua County Public Schools (ACPS) said new data shows test scores did not drop as much as many had feared.

The Florida Department of Education released results from the 2021 Florida Standards Assessments (FSA) and end-of-course (EOC) exams on Thursday. Compared to the 2019 scores, the ACPS student decrease of 5 percent was less than the statewide average decline of 7 percent for students scoring a 3 or above. The state considers a student scoring a 3 or be “proficient.”

State tests were canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“Considering the shift to online learning and hybrid classrooms, quarantines and all the other upheavals created by COVID, the scores are certainly better than they might have been,” ACPS Superintendent Dr. Carlee Simon said in a statement. “Our teachers, staff, students and families deserve a lot of credit for persevering the way they did through a very tough school year.”

The district had the same or less of a drop than the state in the number of students earning a 3 or above in 17 of 21 of the FSA and EOC courses. Overall, ACPS students had lower declines than the statewide average in 13 of 21 courses and the percentage of students earning a score of 3 or above rose in geometry and 10th grade English Language Arts in 2021 compared to 2019.

District staff have already begun doing a deeper dive into the test score data, looking for trends and other information that will help direct instruction for the upcoming school year.

“We’ll be drilling down to the school, grade level, classroom and even individual student level to determine what needs to be done to help all students make up any ground they lost during the past year and get them moving forward again,” said Jennie Wise, the district’s chief of teaching and learning.

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