COVID-year test scores show decline for Florida students

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Florida students’ scores on standardized tests dipped in 2021, with the sharpest decline in math scores, according to data published Thursday by the state Department of Education.

The results also showed lower scores in language arts, science and social studies across all grade levels that were given the assessments. The data on exams given in 2021 were released with a side-by-side comparison of scores from 2019, when the assessments were last administered.

Northeast Florida counties saw similar slides, while Florida Virtual School actually saw an increase over the last year tested.

Statewide exams were not given to students in 2020 because of school closures amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The department reported 51% of students in grades 3 through 8 received scores of satisfactory or higher on state math exams in 2021, down 10 percentage points from 2019. In English-language arts, 52% of students in grades 3 through 10 received satisfactory scores, down 3 percentage points from two years ago.

A similar downward trend was recorded in the statewide science assessment for fifth-grade students, with satisfactory scores falling 6 percentage points. Eighth-grade science scores saw a decline of 3 percentage points.

Students in grades 5 through 12 saw a decline of 7 percentage points on end-of-course civics exams, and students in grades seven through 12 declined 6 percentage points on U.S. history exams.

All DATA: Florida Department of Education 2021 FSA results

Under an emergency order issued by the department in April, accountability measures were waived for all state exams administered to students in 2021. In a June news release announcing third-grade reading scores, which were published earlier than the rest of the data, the department wrote that districts with higher rates of in-person instruction “weathered the ‘COVID slide’ better and saw lesser declines” than districts that relied more heavily on virtual instruction.