The Florida Department of Education (DOE) has released the scores from the 2019 3rd-grade English Language Arts (ELA) Florida Standards Assessment (FSA). Those scores show that the percentage of Alachua County students scoring at a Level 3 or above on the test rose from 56% to 57%. That puts the district one percentage point shy of the Florida average, which is 58%.

Third-grade scores are released first because Florida requires school districts to retain 3rd graders who receive a Level 1 on the language arts FSA. That means those students are not able to move onto 4th grade unless they are able to demonstrate their proficiency through some other state-approved instrument, such as a different exam. Level 1 students must also be offered the opportunity to attend summer reading camps, which will start up in less than two weeks.

Terwilliger Elementary School, which is currently designated a ‘turnaround’ school based on its school grades in previous years, posted an 11 percentage point increase in the number of students earning a Level 3 and above on the exam, from 27% to 38%. The school also posted a 15 percentage point drop in the number of Level 1 students, from 43% to 28%.

Metcalfe Elementary School, the district’s other turnaround school, also posted gains on the test. The percentage of students scoring a Level 3 or above rose from 11% to 22%, while the percentage of students scoring a Level 1 fell from 47% to 38%.

Because the FSA is given in grades 3-10, this is the first year that these students have ever taken one of Florida’s standardized tests. Because their performance on the test can’t be compared with their scores from previous years, the 3rd-grade test serves as more of a baseline, giving a snapshot of where each student is and helping guide principals and teachers on moving them forward. 

Third-grade scores are one of the more than twenty factors that the DOE uses to determine elementary school grades, including test results from other grades in other subjects that show both overall proficiency and gains students have made during the school year.

Scores from other FSA subjects and grade levels are expected to be released sometime in June, with school grades coming out later in the summer.