Science assessment scores “remained consistent”? Seriously?

The results are in for the many mandatory statewide tests Florida’s students take every year. Headlines in newspapers across the state emphasized language arts and math scores, which overall improved over last year’s results. That’s good news.

But science? Here’s what the Florida Department of Education’s press release announcing all of the results says about science:

Compared to 2016, a higher percentage of Florida’s students passed the statewide, standardized assessments in Civics and U.S. History while Science performance remained consistent.

f-school-letter-gradeThat’s all, folks. The press release has a lot of analysis and stats about all of the other exams but a mere “remained consistent” statement about science. Of course, an official press release is going to put as positive a spin as possible on bad news. You have to expect that. But not one single newspaper or other media outlet that I could find said much more about science in their stories than the press release did. Unfortunately, that same pattern of ignoring science results has been going on for years. Let’s look at the numbers.

Biology End of Course
Statewide Percentage Passing (Level 3 or Above)
Spring 2016-2017: 63
Spring 2015-2016: 64
Spring 2014-2015: 65
Spring 2013-2014: 68
Spring 2012-2013: 67
Spring 2011-2012: 59

5th Grade Science Statewide Science Assessment (formally know as the science FCAT)
Statewide Percentage Passing (Level 3 or Above)
2017: 51
2016: 51
2015: 53
2014: 54
2013: 53
2012: 52

8th Grade Science Statewide Science Assessment (formally know as the science FCAT)
Statewide Percentage Passing (Level 3 or Above)
2017: 48*
2016: 48*
2015: 48
2014: 49
2013: 47
2012: 47

In 8th grade, 48 percent of students taking the exam passed it. That means a full 52 percent — yes, more than half of all test takers — did not pass it this year. And that is the same result as the previous year. In 5th grade it’s not any better: 51 percent passed, meaning that nearly half did not pass. And the Biology end of course results have been slipping downward a bit year after year after year.

No, I do not believe the science scores “remained consistent”! They remained dismal. They’re stagnant or falling. And everyone needs to stop sweeping that dirt under the rug.

Does anyone care about Florida science education?

(*FDOE started a year or two ago combining the 8th grade science assessment results with the results of 8th graders who instead took the Biology EOC. The combined statistic reported on most of the FDOE’s documents is 50 percent passing in 8th grade. But the pure Statewide Science Assessment results show a passing percentage of only 48. I highlighted this when I first noticed it in last year’s assessment results post.)

About Brandon Haught

Communications Director for Florida Citizens for Science.
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