Duval Data:1st Graders Lag in Reading But District Seeing Biology Improvements

Jan 31, 2018

Mid-year academic data show Duval County first-graders are lagging behind last year’s class in reading, while students taking biology are doing better by 18 percentage points. 

School board members on Wednesday reviewed the data that included scores from mid-year scrimmage tests, which are similar to state tests some grades will be taking soon, and scores from computer programs like i-Ready, which students use to practice reading and math.

Lowlights

Credit Duval County Public Schools

One area of concern: first grade reading. Just 52 percent are reading at grade level - or almost there - which is a decline of 6 percentage points from last year. It’s worse in “turnaround” schools which have made several consecutive D’s or F’s, where only 32 percent are reading at or almost at grade level.  

Still, Board Chair Paula Wright is hopeful.

“We are looking at it now so that we can make certain that by the end of the school year which is June, they’ll be where they need to be,” Wright said.

A first grade reading improvement plan includes more training for certain teachers as well as small-group remedial work for struggling students.

The district is also implementing plans for other problem areas, including fourth-grade language arts and eighth-grade math and science. Eighth-grade math i-Ready scores show nine percent of students are on grade-level track, with six percent passing their math scrimmage test.

Highlights

However, third-grade reading, a historic problem area, improved by three percentage points.

Related: 2016-17 Midyear Eval Shows Some Duval Students Still Not Reading At Grade Level

Mid-year biology scores also increased from 53 percent, at or almost at grade level last year, to 69 percent.

In addition, middle school subgroups, meaning individual races and English-language learners, improved in reading. The same is true for third through fifth graders and high school students in reading. But kindergarten through second grade reading scores decreased for Caucasian and African-American students.

Credit Duval County Public Schools

“I think that Duval County is positioning itself to really understand how to use data to help students move,” Wright said. “The data as presented today will give us an opportunity to look at not just where students are but how we can move them to where they need to be.”

Outside Operator

Lake Forest Elementary along with Matthew Gilbert and Northwestern middle schools are in danger of the state requiring an outside operator company to manage them next year -- that’s if the low-performing schools don’t make C’s this year.

Related: Duval School Board Agrees On Potential Operator For 3 Low-Performing Schools

District staff said the mid-year data presented Wednesday isn’t enough information to determine the likelihood of those schools making C’s. School grades include standardized test scores, graduation rate and improvement points. The mid-year data only reflects proficiency in subjects, not improvement, also called learning gains.

However, the district is taking a deeper look at those schools. Staff members are expected to present predictive data at a school board workshop in the next couple of months.

Photo used under Creative Commons.

Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at lkilbride@wjct.org, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at@lindskilbride.