“We made history.”
That was the message from school district officials the morning of May 26 after they saw the third grade FCAT reading and math test results released by the Florida Department of Education.
Third graders at Macclenny Elementary and Westside Elementary posted the second-highest reading scores in the state along with St. Johns County students.
Eighty-seven percent of the students scored “proficient” on the reading portion of the test, which is defined as a score of 3 or higher on the FCAT’s 5-point scale.
Only Santa Rosa County performed better on the reading exam with 88 percent scoring proficient.
State-wide, 72 percent of students scored a 3 or above.
Susan Voorhees, the district’s director of accountability, and Superintendent Sherrie Raulerson were ecstatic about the results.
“I cried all morning,” said Ms. Raulerson, who met with teachers and students to announce the good news.
“We’re glowing,” added Ms. Voorhees. “The parents, students and teachers are so excited. There’s so much work that goes into this kind of success.”
St. Johns County is one of the best-performing school districts in the state. The district often turns to officials there for consultation.
“But what makes this different for us,” said Ms. Voorhees, “is they’re a very affluent district. They’re the children of highly-paid professionals, and they have a higher tax base and more funding per student … When we talk with them about what they’re doing and how we can improve, they’re always quick to say, ‘But keep in mind we have resources that most districts don’t have.’”
Among the 380 third graders who took the reading FCAT, eight scored the highest level possible — 5 — and only 13 children scored a 1 or 2.
On the FCAT math exam, 86 percent of local third graders performed proficient, tying with two other districts for the sixth highest marks in the state.
“That’s nothing to scoff at either,” said Ms. Raulerson.
Eighty-three percent of third graders at Macclenny Elementary and 88 percent of those at Westside scored a 3 or higher on the math portion.
The students improved on last year’s scores too, increasing 3 percent in math and 5 percent in reading.
The next round of FCAT scores are expected June 6.
The scores are used by the Florida Department of Education to determine each school’s letter grade along with other criteria.