After a break from grades in the 2020-21 school year, a report from the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) shows 2021-22 Florida school grades are trending up. The 2021-2022 school grades mark the first full school grade data release since 2019 due to the lack of assessments in the 2019-2020 school year and the opt-in nature of the 2020-2021 school grades.
A press release from Governor Ron DeSantis stated that “Florida’s schools performed much better than expected due to policies that kept schools open and kept students in the classroom.”
The report noted that fifty-three schools that had been targeted for improvement were removed from the support list as a result of this year’s test scores. Every school that had an F grade in 2019 — the last testing year before the pandemic — was able to raise its grade.
In addition, 84% of schools that graded D and F in 2019 improved their grades in 2022.
Overall, elementary schools had the largest increase in the percentage of schools increasing their grade with 20% (351) of elementary schools improving one or more letter grade.
“From Spring 2021 to Spring 2022, it’s clear that our teachers and school leaders used every resource at their disposal to lift Florida’s students well beyond expectations,” said Commissioner Manny Diaz, Jr. “We know that these results are thanks to policies that kept schools open and kept kids in the classroom, which has been widely recognized as critical to student achievement. Today we can celebrate these incredible results, while continuing to support the schools that are struggling. With Governor DeSantis’ leadership, Florida will continue to support our great teachers and implement world class instructional and educational supports to uplift Florida’s education family.”
“When I reflect on these school grades and the recent test results, the significant student growth, achievement gap closure and school-wide achievements validate Florida’s approach to get our schools open first and return to normalcy as quickly as possible,” said State Board of Education Chair Tom Grady. “The lesson to learn here is that the tools and supports we provide our teachers and high-quality instruction and curriculum matter and they make a difference in our schools.”
The 2021-22 grades are the last under the Florida State Assessment (FSA) system which required tests at the end of each academic year.
The Florida legislature passed a bill during the 2022 legislative session, which was signed by Governor DeSantis, that will provide for a new testing process.
The new Florida Assessment of Student Thinking (FAST) will focus on progress monitoring. The new system allows for three short exams to monitor student progress in fall, winter and spring, giving teachers more time to teach as well as real-time data to target instruction.
Schools will continue to receive grades, however, 2022-23 will be considered a new baseline year to allow for comparisons under the new system.
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Steve Stewart is a senior contributor at The Florida Capital Star.