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Duval students lag in math and reading in new state testing results

A bronze statue of children outside of Duval County Public Schools administration building.
Claire Heddles
Jacksonville Today
Florida implemented a new standardized testing format last school year.

Duval Schools ranked 50th in math and 47th in English language arts among Florida's 67 county-level school districts, according to new state test results

Exactly half of Duval County Schools students in third through eighth grades tested at grade level in math. The statewide average was 56%.

The district's third through 10th graders fared worse than the statewide average in English language arts too. Just 44% of students showed grade-level proficiency compared with 50% statewide.

“Clearly, we must reassess our strategies surrounding instruction and curriculum and immediately begin working toward positive change," Superintendent Dana Kriznar said in an emailed statement Friday.

Duval students did slightly outperform statewide averages in some specialized classes, including biology, algebra and geometry. About 54% of Duval geometry students tested at a proficient level, compared with 49% statewide.

In biology, 66% tested at grade level proficiency compared with 63% statewide. And 56% of Duval algebra students tested at grade-level proficiency, compared with 54% statewide.

But there were less than 9,000 students tested in each of those specialties. For the vast majority of the district's 129,000 students, proficiency in core topics lagged.

Florida threw out its standardized tests last year, replacing them with a new progress monitoring system — making year-to-year comparison difficult.

But compared across the state, Duval students fared worse in math and English language arts than students at all of Florida's other large school districts.

"Our students and community must know they can count on us to improve, and working toward academic improvement will be the focus of my time in this role," Kriznar said.

Kriznar was formerly the deputy superintendent and is under a six-month contract while the district searches for a long-term replacement for former Superintendent Diana Greene.

Statewide grade reports, which take these new standardized test results into account, are expected later this fall. Last year's grades showed a 5% decrease in the number of D-rated, district-run schools during Greene's tenure.

School Board Chair Kelly Coker echoed her sentiments. “These results show that, in the big picture, our schools are not where they need to be with student academic outcomes," Coker said.

Claire joined WJCT as a reporter in August 2021. She was previously the local host of NPR's Morning Edition at WUOT in Knoxville, Tennessee. During her time in East Tennessee, her coverage of the COVID pandemic earned a Public Media Journalists’ Association award for investigative reporting. You can reach Claire at (904) 250-0926 or on Twitter @ClaireHeddles.