After the first round of state assessment scores Gulf District Schools are already operating at a deficit.
The Florida Department of Education released the initial group of Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) scores last week with the announcement of results for third graders in reading and math and writing scores in fourth, eighth and 10th grades.
Attempting to put sheen on the results for Gulf District Schools would be a mixed effort.
The writing scores for eighth-and 10th-graders at Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School were above the state average but that was about the only highlight.
“They were the one bright spot,” said Melissa Ramsey, district supervisor of testing. “They were above the state average and that was good.”
Eighth-graders averaged a 3.6 score on the writing FCAT, which while a slight drop from last year’s 3.7 was nonetheless above the state average of 3.4.
A score of 3.0 is considered proficient to the grade level.
Among eighth-graders the district still fell below the state average with a 3.3 as eighth-graders at Wewahitchka Jr./Sr. High School averaged a 2.8, off 0.4 points from last year.
Among 10th-graders, scores at Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School in writing was 3.6 and the district was even with the state average of 3.5 as Wewahitchka High School sophomores averaged a 3.4, an improvement of 0.6 points compared to last year.
And that was about the extent of the positive news, Ramsey said.
“We were below the state average in just about every other area,” Ramsey said. “And we are real low in some areas.”
District fourth-graders scored an average of 2.9 on the writing FCAT, with both elementary schools scoring identically and dropping, compared to last year, by an identical 0.2 points.
The state average was 3.3.
The district ranked 73rd out of 75 districts in fourth-grade writing scores, easily the worst performance for the district since the FCAT was implemented some 15 years ago.
“That was historically low,” Ramsey said. “We have never scored below a 3.0.”
At the third grade level, important because third-graders are taking the FCAT for the first time and because third grade is a level where children can be held back due to low test scores, the district struggled compared to the state average in reading and math.
Thirty-seven percent of third-graders at Port St. Joe Elementary scored at proficiency in math and 48 percent did so at Wewahitchka Elementary.
That was a drop of 13 percent and 28 percent, respectively, at the schools compared to last year and the district’s average of 45 percent was 13 points behind the state.
The district ranked No. 70 out of 75 districts statewide in third—grade math.
In reading, the results were slightly better.
Fifty-two percent of Port St. Joe Elementary third-graders were proficient in reading, a dip of just 1 percent. At Wewahitchka Elementary, 50 percent, representing a drop of 16 percentage points, were proficient in reading.
The state average was 57 percent; the district’s 51 percent.
“We are looking at individual classroom results and the aggregate results to try to fully understand the data,” Ramsey said. “We are curious to see what the data in other grades will look like.
“We have some challenges, but these are very preliminary numbers. Historically we have been better.”
Additional FCAT results, and school grades, will be released in the coming months.