So as most civic educators here in Florida are likely aware (judging by the obsessive reloading of the FLDOE website during workshops I attended last week ;-) ), the scores for the state End of Course Assessment in Civics have been released. And the news overall is positive!
Scores remained remarkably consistent overall, with the state's overall average at 71 percent of ALL students taking the exam scoring a 3 or better. In fact, the percentage of students scoring at least a 4 actually went up!
Looking at the scores among the three largest demographics in the state (white, black, Hispanic), scores were mostly stable, though the percentage of Hispanic students scoring at least a 3 or 4 actually went up!
Of course, the concern remains that there is still a significant gap between some groups of students, and our job is to work on closing that gap. In pursuit of that effort, FJCC is excited to have launched the Civics Community Collaborative in Orange County, working with teachers in the most needful schools on ways in which we can begin to try and close the civics achievement gap! We are also re-emphasizing our online Canvas courses for new, beginning, and even veteran civics teachers that focus on what is necessary to make civics a success. We will be opening a new cohort to interested participants soon, in addition to the sections already available for OCPS teachers within the Collaborative.
Looking at the district data overall, far more districts made gains than suffered declines, and that is GOOD news! Some big ones stood out to me. Baker went from 58% to 71% at 3 or better, which is HUGE! Those teachers there have made such huge strides, and we have done some amount of work with some of the folks there as well through the Panhandle Area Educational Consortium and other workshops and support opportunities. But this is mostly on the students and their incredible teachers! The same goes for Gilchrist, which went from 73% to 85%, Hardee, which went from 48% to 60% (wow!), Okeechobee, which jumped from 51% to 59%, Union, which went from 65% to 79% (double wow!),
Some other districts also made some notable jumps. Columbia, Flagler, Gadsden, Gulf, Highlands, Holmes, Monroe, Nassau, Sarasota, Suwannee, Taylor, and Washington all increased at least 5 percentage points in the percentage of students scoring at least a 3. many of these are small rural districts, and while they didn't all hit the state average, they all deserve a great deal of kudos for making such wonderful gains!
We would be remiss if we didn't make a special mention of Bay County. Bay County, in our state's Panhandle, dropped from a 76% to a 74%. They still exceeded the state's percentage, but a drop is an area of concern no matter the overall result. But, friends, Bay suffered MASSIVE damage and devastation to its schools as a result of the horrific Hurricane Michael.
Schools remained closed and kids and teachers ran on half-schedules for MONTHS, and so many members of the community remain homeless even today. Dropping only 2% is, in our eyes, simply amazing, and kudos to everyone in the district for what is a true success. And kudos to their district social studies supervisor, Ms. Alana Simmons, for the hard and non-stop work she put in with her teachers and schools every day to make sure things were as normal as they could be, and helping prepare those kids and teachers to succeed on that Civics EOCA.
Do we as a state have work to do? Of course. We cannot be satisfied with scoring as well as we did last year, and we here at FJCC are going to do our best to try and make a difference where we can. And we continue to work on areas of opportunity for civic engagement models on the part of students. But, friends and fellow civics educators, we should all be proud of where we are as a state in civic education. We are, indeed, a leader in civic education.