Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Florida students pass end-of-course exams at higher rate

More Florida students passed their end-of-course exams this year, while results from Tampa Bay area classrooms were more of a mixed bag, according to data released Monday by the state Department of Education.

End-of-course exams typically have not received much attention when it comes to Florida's school accountability efforts. But they are becoming increasingly important as the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test is phased out. Students cannot graduate without passing the Algebra 1 exam, for example, and end-of-course exams influence students' and schools' grades.

The exams' more prominent role showed up in results for U.S. History: 65 percent of Florida students passed the test, up 10 percentage points over 2013. This was the first year that Florida students could earn a special "scholar" designation on their diplomas, and one of the requirements was passing the history exam.

Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart said she believed students in high-level courses, such as Advanced Placement, took the history exam at greater rates to get the scholar diploma. "That could be a reason we are seeing a large spike," Stewart said in a phone call with reporters.

In addition to the large gains made in U.S. History, Florida saw 68 percent of students pass the Biology 1 test and 66 percent pass the Algebra 1 exams — slight increases over 2013.

The algebra pass rate is typically shored up by advanced students who take the course in the seventh or eighth grade. Despite a program dubbed "Algebra Nation" that Gov. Rick Scott promoted to increase the ninth-grade pass rate, just 52 percent of freshmen — the same as in 2013 — showed proficiency in the subject.

"I know that at the district level they're all looking into that data as we speak, and we'll be looking at the results," Stewart said.

Tampa Bay students improved their performance on the Algebra 1 exam, with Hillsborough and Pasco students making modest gains. In Pinellas, the percentage of students passing the test increased from 56 to 61 percent, while the ninth-grade pass rate jumped from 34 percent to 42 percent.

Pinellas officials said that, of the state's seven largest school districts, their first-time test-takers made the third-highest gains on the exam.

"Our commitment to offering greater access to these more rigorous mathematics, science and history courses is helping us raise the bar for our students," Pinellas schools superintendent Mike Grego said in a statement. "Not surprisingly, we find that they are rising to meet, even exceed, those expectations."

Still, Pinellas saw mixed results in other areas. Sixty percent of students who took the Geometry end-of-course exam passed it, down from 67 percent in 2013. And slightly fewer students passed the Biology 1 exam.

Hillsborough students' performance remained flat on the science test, while fewer students passed Geometry. Pasco saw gains in all four subjects.

Pasco superintendent Kurt Browning said he was pleased with the scores and said they were a superior tool to measure his schools compared with the FCAT, administered for the last time this spring.

"Because they reflect what we are teaching in the classroom, end-of-course exams present a much more accurate picture of our students' learning during this time of transition than do high-stakes tests like FCAT," Browning said.

No local district more than Hillsborough rode the wave of high achievement on the U.S. History exam: 74 percent passed the test, well above the Florida average and a 14 percentage point increase over the district's 2013 pass rate.

In Pasco, 71 percent passed U.S. History, up eight points, and 65 percent passed in Hernando, up seven. In Pinellas, 66 percent of students passed the exam, up 6 points.

Lisa Gartner can be reached at Follow @lisagartner on Twitter.

Florida students pass end-of-course exams at higher rate 06/16/14 [Last modified: Monday, June 16, 2014 11:14pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Was it a crime? 10 patients at nursing home died after Irma


    HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (AP) — A 10th elderly patient has died after being kept inside a nursing home that turned into a sweatbox when Hurricane Irma knocked out its air conditioning for three days, even though just across the street was a fully functioning and cooled hospital.

    The Rehabilitation Center of Hollywood Hills, 1200 N. 35th Ave. [EMILHY MICHOT | Miami Herald]
  2. Oh, Florida! Irma's gone, but she left behind plenty of lessons for us


    I don't want to make light of the misery and death that Hurricane Irma inflicted on Florida this month. A lot of it was ugly, and some of it was downright criminal. We saw greed and pettiness on display, and it brought illness and death.

    Tampa Bay Times staff writer Craig Pittman.
  3. 'Toxic' times: How repeal of Florida's tax on services reverberates, 30 years later

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Long before Hurricane Irma attacked Florida, the state faced a troubled fiscal future that the storm will only make worse.

    Robertson says the tax debate is now “toxic.”
  4. Facebook to release Russia ads to Congress amid pressure

    NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook will provide the contents of 3,000 ads bought by a Russian agency to congressional investigators.

  5. Editorial: Pinellas Construction Licensing Board should be abolished


    There are essentially two facts that need to be understood about the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board: It is a one-of-a-kind agency in Florida without any accountability to the state or the county. And to be kind, for years it was run haphazardly as an independent fiefdom, with missing financial records, …

    The only way to restore faith and sanity to the process is to abolish the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board and follow the lead of Hillsborough and other counties that utilize building departments and law enforcement to regulate contractors.