TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -

Just under half of Florida's high school freshmen passed an algebra test needed to graduate, but middle school students who took it did much better on the algebra end of course exam.

Results released by the Florida Department of Education on Friday show 48 percent of ninth graders statewide taking the Algebra 1 exam for the first time passed it. The students who failed will have to retake the course or get other remediation before taking the test again.

This year's freshman class is the first that must pass the test to graduate.

The test showed the earlier the student takes algebra, the better they performed on the test. While 87 percent of students across the state in grades six through eighth taking the test for the first time passed it, algebra is not required in middle school. Only 48 percent of students who take it as freshmen in high school passed, and the percentage goes even lower in higher grades.

In Duval County, 80 percent of seventh graders passed the test and 58 percent of eighth graders passed, but only 30 percent of ninth graders passed.

In Clay County, 96 percent of eighth graders and 59 percent of ninth graders passed. One hundred percent of eighth graders in Nassau and St. Johns County passed the test, with 73 percent of ninth graders in St. Johns passing and 62 percent of ninth graders in Nassau passing.

INTERACTIVE SEARCH:  Algebra end-of-course results by county, individual schools

State education officials released a statement saying that while more than 58,000 ninth-graders failed the algebra EOC, results across the board were better than expected.

"I am extremely proud of our students for their hard work and achievement on the Algebra 1 end-of-course assessment," said Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson. "We actually have several programs for students who did not pass, to take courses in remediation."

Students who need to retake algebra can opt for summer school algebra, take the course online or wait until next year.