More of Duval’s students are on track to pass the state’s reading requirements than were about this time last year, except students in the first and fourth grades, according to mid-year results.

 

District officials Tuesday revealed mid-year academic indicators to the School Board. These internal and online test results are expected to help predict — with 85 percent accuracy or better — how many students will likely pass the state’s annual assessments this spring.

Overall, the internal data show that in reading all grades except first and fourth are improving beyond this time last year. For instance, 59 percent of the district’s third-graders are proficient or approaching proficiency, which is 3 percentage points above last year, said Mason Davis, the district’s chief academic officer.

On the other hand, 74 percent of fourth-graders are at or approaching reading proficiency, down 3 percentage points from last year.

“That’s a little bit concerning for us; we’re looking at our systems” to make changes, Davis said, adding that last year’s third-graders were given additional phonics instruction.

In math, student performance was more mixed, with five grade levels improving performance and grades 2 and 4 showing declines.

Students also took mid-year “scrimmage” tests, designed to resemble state assessments. Those results also were mixed: five grades improved in English language arts and three grades fell, while five grades improved in math and one showed no change.

District leaders are closely scrutinizing progress in the district’s “turnaround” schools, which must improve their state report card grades to a C or face reorganization, takeover or closure in the coming years. Duval has three schools facing possible takeover by an outside operator next year if they don’t earn at least a C this year: Lake Forest Elementary and Matthew Gilbert and Northwestern middle schools.

In Lake Forest’s mid-year results, 55 percent of students in third through fifth grades are on track to pass reading, down from last year’s 60 percent. In math, 51 percent of students in those grades are at or near proficient, up slightly from last year. Science was up nine percentage points to 75 percent proficient or nearing proficient in fifth grade.

At Matthew Gilbert, 59 percent are proficient or nearing proficiency in reading, up 2 percentage points. In math, the numbers are lower: 25 percent are at or near proficiency, up five percent from last year but far behind the district average of 42 percent.

At Northwestern, 62 percent are passing or near passing reading, up 5 percentage points, while in math 27 percent are at or near proficiency, up three percentage points from last year.

Board member Rebecca Couch said she is concerned Northwestern students also showed dips in science as well as math.

“Are you doing intensive vocabulary instruction in science,” she asked Davis. “In social studies and science there’s a correlation with reading skill levels. Vocabulary words in science … is a huge piece in the missing link for some kids.”

Board member Scott Shine said he was encouraged by most of the mid-year data.

“They definitely are looking stronger,” he said. “When you get high enough numbers, each incremental improvement is going to be harder and harder to get. It looks like we have a good momentum going through the year. We’re way ahead of where we were three years ago.”

Overall, we can’t tell yet if the three schools will make a C this year, Davis said, because report cards also consider learning gains and other measures. He said district officials plan to present learning gains information in a few weeks.

Denise Smith Amos: (904) 359-4083