Some good — and bad results — from the state’s U.S. history exam: Most kids aren’t considered proficient

Marine Corps War Memorial featuring servicemen who raised the second U.S. flag on Iwo Jima during World War II. Getty Images

Florida students are supposed to know the fundamentals of U.S. History, from the Civil War, World War II and the Cold War to political and economic challenges and social revolutions.

How are kids doing? The news is good and bad for the nearly 180,000 students who took the U.S. History exam last school year.

The good part is that performance has been inching up on the state’s U.S. History exam – an “end-of-course” exam taken for the most part by 11th graders, though students between 7th through 11th grade can participate.

For the 2019 exams, 69 percent of kids passed, up from 68 percent the year before. And that 69 percent is the highest passing rate since 2013, according to data from the Florida Department of Education.

Only 56 percent of students passed back in 2013. A year later, the passing rate jumped to 66 percent, but then leveled off. In 2017, 67 percent of students passed. In 2018, it was 68 percent.

Now comes the bad news: Only 43 percent of the students in 2019 were considered proficient in U.S. History.

That’s because the state allows kids to “pass” without being proficient. The passing rate requires at least a Level 3 of achievement, which is considered “satisfactory – may need additional support for the next grade/course.”

But the higher achievement levels – Levels 4 and 5 – reflect at least proficiency, followed by mastery of the subject.

Though only 43 percent of students were considered proficient, scoring at Level 4 or 5, the passing rate, based on proficiency, has been rising.

Back in 2013, only 28 percent of kids scored at the proficient level. After that, the percent rose from 38 to 42 percent, for Level 4 and 5 students.

The 43 percent in 2019 is now the highest, based on Level 4 and Level 5 scores.

The exams are taken in the fall, winter and spring but the spring exam has the largest number of kids, with 11th graders providing the most information.

Of the 67 counties, the passing rates for 11th graders taking the exam ranged from 89 percent in St. Johns County in northeast Florida to 32 percent in Glades County in South Florida.

St. Johns also had the highest percentage of students proficient in U.S. History – 68 percent of students taking the 11th graders exam scored at a Level 4 and 5.




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