TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Florida Department of Education released a new report saying the state’s standardized testing scores had reportedly exceeded their expectations for the 2021-2022 school year. According to FDOE, the grades “mark the first full school grade data release since 2019,” due to the lack of testing in the 2019-2020 school year, and the “opt-in nature” of grades the following year.

The education department said it “applauds the hard work of Florida’s students, parents, teachers and school leaders as their collective efforts to support student achievement” and improve school grade levels while defying “conventional wisdom and established a foundation for further closing achievement gaps.”

However, the number of students recorded as receiving an average grade of ‘F’ increased compared to the previous year of comparison.

According to the FDOE data, 33% of students received A’s on their final grades, a 2% decrease from 2019. The number of students who finished with a B also went down by 2%, dropping to 25% for 2022. The number of C students increased by 4%, while D students remained unchanged by percentage.

Students who received an F for grade averages increased by 1%.

Percentage Point
(Source: FDOE)

The state said there were a few “key highlights” that were found in the latest school year’s grades.

  • Fifty-three schools exited the School Improvement Support list in 2022.
  • 100% of schools graded F in 2019 improved their grades in 2022, including one that earned a B and six that earned a C.
  • 84% of schools graded D and F in 2019 improved their grades in 2022.
  • Overall, elementary schools had the largest increase in the percentage of schools increasing their grade with 20% (351) of elementary schools improving one or more letter grade.
  • 469 schools increased their grade in 2022, while 825 schools maintained an A grade and 348 schools maintained a B grade compared to 2019.

“From Spring 2021 to Spring 2022, it’s clear that our teachers and school leaders used every resource at their disposal to lift Florida’s students well beyond expectations,” new Education Commissioner Manny Diaz, Jr. said. “We know that these results are thanks to policies that kept schools open and kept kids in the classroom, which has been widely recognized as critical to student achievement.”

Compared to 2019, state data provided showed the number of students who earned F’s as their average letter grade increased 3% in 2022, while the other grade levels remained unchanged. Taken together, the state described the change in grades across the board as 1% lower than the previous testing year used for comparison.

Additionally, the state said that schools that were “low-performing” saw improvement.

FDOE said “in the 2020-2021 academic school year, Florida schools that tested more than 90% of students were eligible to opt-in to receive a letter grade. However, compared to the grades that schools would have received based on 2020-2021 assessment results, there were several important improvements achieved in the 2021-2022 school year.”

The highlights pointed out to this end were:

  • The number of schools receiving an F was significantly lower than expected.
  • Assuming grades had been issued to all schools in 2019-2020, Florida saw a significant reduction in F schools (from 244 projected schools to 30 schools).
  • The number of “D” or “F” schools has declined 65% since 2015 and the number of “F” schools has declined 85% (30 schools) since 2015 (205 schools).

Florida’s most vulnerable students at our most fragile schools continue to beat the odds by increasing student performance, according to the FDOE.

Diaz said the state could celebrate students’ “incredible results” and still continue “to support the schools that are struggling.” He said the leadership of Gov. Ron DeSantis would “continue to support our great teachers and implement world class instructional and educational supports to uplift Florida’s education family.”

According to the FDOE release, “schools receiving state support in 2021-22, 70% (53 schools) improved their performance and exited state support. Of the 25 schools implementing a State Board of Education-approved Turnaround plan, 80% (20 schools) exited Turnaround by earning a 2022 grade of C or higher.”

From the released data provided by FDOE, the scores they were said to have exceeded were not included.

WFLA.com has reached out to the FDOE to ask for clarification on what the criteria were for the statement “exceeds expectations” as it pertains to the grade averages of Florida’s students. We will update this story when a response is received.