Florida has released the results of the controversial Florida Standards Assessment. Many districts had around a quarter of their students score in the lowest percentile.
The Florida Association of District School Superintendents released a statement Friday saying the state should suspend testing results altogether, saying the association has lost confidence in the current accountability system for the state's students.
The FSA testing process came under fire last year after many schools across the state reported glitches and errors as students tried to take the test. The Florida Department of Education also reported a cyber attack on a log-on server for the exam. The DOE received widespread reports of districts seeing white screens while trying to log into the test.
"It never loaded the page, and I had to switch computers because of that," a Pasco County School student told ABC Action News last spring.
Florida paid American Institutes of Research $220 million to build the test.
"In this high-stakes environment, students, teacher and schools should not be impacted by a rushed and flowed administration of new, untried assessments," the statement read. "While direct negative consequences were avoided for students, the results of a flawed assessment will impact teacher evaluations and be used to judge the quality of schools."
The FADSS is also concerned that students "learning gains" from one year to the next are not being taken into account.
"If we're not going to take into account the growth process, the learning gains, then we aren't doing justice for our kids and certainly our parents and our kids deserve better than that," Hillsborough School Superintendent Jeff Eakins told ABC Action News last Friday, prior to the release of the test results.
ABC Action News asked Kurt Browning, superintendent of Pasco County Schools, how they were responding to the results.
"I'm not putting a lot of stock in the results of this year's FSA," Browning said by phone.
DISTRICT BY DISTRICT
Despite the FADSS plea to suspend testing results, some districts responded by saying they had seen some positive results.
The test scores released Wednesday by the Florida Department of Education show Pinellas students performed as well or better than the rest of the state for the majority of grade levels and subject areas on the 2015 Florida Standards Assessment.
In Pinellas County Schools, about 22 percent of students in grades three through eight scored in the highest percentile in math. About 27 percent scored in the lowest percentile.
"These new assessments hold students to higher and more challenging standards. I congratulate our teachers, students and administrators for their tremendous focus," said Michael Grego, superintendent of Pinellas County Schools in an emailed statement.
In Polk County, students grades in three through eight showed gains from 2014 to 2015 in math. However, Algebra I students declined in rank by one place, the district said in a statement. Polk County students saw gains in most ELA scores, the statement continued. About 17 percent of students in grades three through eight scored in the highest percentile in math. About 33 percent scored in the lowest percentile.
"We are encouraged that early indications show our School District's ranking has improved in nearly all subject areas and grade levels," said Polk Schools Superintendent Kathryn M. LeRoy in an emailed statement. "We are now sifting through the data, and developing plans on how to use available resources so our students can continue to improve and achieve even higher levels of success."
Hillsborough County Schools told ABC Action News their scores were no surprise: Students scored right around the state's baseline. They are not using this data to make any changes in the classroom and instead are relying on other assessments. About 22 percent of students in grades three through eight scored in the highest percentile in math. About 28 percent scored in the lowest percentile.
Pasco schools were in the process of reviewing the data, but about 24 percent of students in grades three through eight scored in the highest percentile in math. About 26 percent scored in the lowest percentile.
In Manatee County, 27 percent of students in grades three through eight scored in the highest percentile in math. About 23 percent scored in the lowest percentile.
In Sarasota County Schools, 15 percent of students in grades three through eight scored in the highest percentile in math. About 36 percent scored in the lowest percentile.
No school district that spoke with ABC Action News said they were using these test results to make immediate changes in their classrooms.
School districts are now waiting to see if their FSA scores negatively impact the state's A-F grading system for schools, which can help determine student funding and teacher evaluations.
Students will receive their own FSA ranking at the end of October, school leaders said.