TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — After two years of lockdown, reopenings, and educational investment, Florida’s third graders only averaged a 53% pass rate in 2022 for state reading exams from the Florida Standards Assessment.

In the final year of FSA testing, before Florida switches to new progress monitoring programs passed by the legislature and signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, reading outcomes for third graders were worse than the year before.

The FSA for English Language Arts in 2022 only had 53% of the state’s third graders score a 3 or higher on the achievement scale. The scale is graded from 1 to 5. Since 2015, Florida’s Grade 3 classes have not averaged a 60% or higher proportional pass rate.

According to the state’s own reported results, the majority of Florida’s 67 counties not only didn’t have pass rates increase, but rather, the portion of students who passed decreased.

Citrus County’s scores dropped 6%. Hardee County dropped 4%. Hernando fell 3%.

Highlands, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties all had a 2% drop.

Manatee County score percentages fell 3%. Pasco County, dropped 3%.

Polk County’s score went up 1%, to a 48% pass rate compared to the state average of 53%.

Sarasota County’s score fell 3%, to 63% from 66%.

Location2021 Pass Rate2022 Pass Rate% Change
Florida Statewide54%53%-1%
Citrus County54%48%-6%
Hardee County51%47%-4%
Hernando County57%54%-3%
Highlands County46%44%-2%
Hillsborough County51%49%-2%
Manatee County49%46%-3%
Pasco County56%53%-3%
Pinellas County54%52%-2%
Polk County47%48%+1%
Sarasota County66%63%-3%
(Source: Florida DOE)

Note: Pass rate percentages are based on the number of students who scored a Level 3 or Above on the 1 to 5 grading scale.

In the 2022 FSA for English Language Arts, only 6% of third graders received a Level 5 achievement. More than 210,000 third grade students were tested.

According to state documentation, to pass, students needed to receive a score of 300 to 360, depending on which achievement level they reached. The state mean score was 299.

For the coming school year, students will take a different assessment, the "Florida’s Assessment of Student Thinking (F.A.S.T.), which will be a Coordinated Screening and Progress Monitoring System of assessments, as required under provisions of Senate Bill 1048," according to the Florida Department of Education.

The progress monitoring system set up by SB 1048 "will be aligned to the Benchmarks of Excellent Student Thinking (B.E.S.T.) standards and is designed to provide more frequent, actionable feedback to teachers, parents and students."

At an event for the bill signing of SB 1048 in St. Petersburg in March, DeSantis had praised how Florida was reported as the third best state in the country for K-12 education by Education Week in 2021, the second year in a row. A more current ranking has not yet been released.