The conversation about science has started but will it continue?

EOC-PictureI encourage you to see for yourself what Mr. Padget and Ms. Stewart had to say about science scores (see my previous post on this). The video from the meeting is available here. Mr. Padget’s comments on science start at about 12:07. Ms. Stewart’s comments on science are at about 38:48.

I appreciate that they both acknowledge that there is a problem that needs attention. But in typical fashion, Ms. Stewart didn’t linger very long on the low scores, preferring to focus on some bright spots in the sub-categories. And both Ms. Stewart and Mr. Padget neglected to tell the whole story. Stewart said that the passing rate for the biology EOC exams are six percentage points higher than in 2012. True. However, look at the annual break down:

Biology End of Course
State Percentage Passing (Level 3 or Above)
Spring 2014-2015: 65
Spring 2013-2014: 68
Spring 2012-2013: 67
Spring 2011-2012: 59

The big leap in scores came between the first and second years, 59 percent to 67 percent, which is a nice eight point jump. But then the following year the increase was only by one point. And this year there was a big drop off of three points. There was one really nice year and everything else since has been a disappointment.

They also acknowledged the stagnant science FCAT scores. But just barely. Most of the comments were about the biology EOC. Here’s the FCAT break down:

5th Grade Science FCAT
State Percentage Passing (Level 3 or Above)
2015: 53
2014: 54
2013: 53
2012: 52

8th Grade Science FCAT
State Percentage Passing (Level 3 or Above)
2015: 48
2014: 49
2013: 47
2012: 47

Once again, I appreciate that Mr. Padget brought up the subject and that Ms. Stewart said “We know there’s work to do.” Hopefully, any proposed solutions won’t get derailed or forgotten when the other exam results (the set of FSAs) are released.

About Brandon Haught

Communications Director for Florida Citizens for Science.
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2 Responses to The conversation about science has started but will it continue?

  1. Pierce R. Butler says:

    The Florida school system has focused almost entirely on tests and test results since the dark days of the Jeb! Bush administration, an approach which has failed on multiple levels ever since.

    One level where I haven’t seen much attention: the tests themselves. What, if any, reason do we have to think these test results mean anything, in absolute terms or relative to each other?

    Perhaps maybe possibly the differences between one year and another signify an improved (or diminished) understanding, but I suspect that they reflect luck (or leaks) whereby the instructors happen to hammer more often on whatever points that year’s questions demand regurgitating.

    In the hands of skilled teachers, test questions (even, slightly, multiple-choicers) can measure how well students actually absorb their lessons. Coming from corporations many miles and several state borders from the kids enduring them, then reviewed and “refined” by bureaucrats picked by the likes of Gov. Rick Scott, the FCAT and its ilk do not impress me as a precision instrument whose fluctuations provide reliable guidance.

  2. Chris says:

    I wonder how Florida students fair with other states on the same type of test? Each state seems to have a different standard.

    U.S. students improving – slowly – in math and science, but still lagging internationally.

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