Third grade reading scores drop statewide

decline in language arts scores among Gulf County third graders this past spring
was in keeping with what was seen statewide.

Florida Department of Education reported that 54 percent of third-grade
students this year scored a “satisfactory” or above on the state
English-language arts exam, a 4 percentage-point decrease from 2019 when the
exam was last administered.

In Gulf
County, the district-wide decline in proficiency over 2019 was 3 percentage points.

At Port
St. Joe Elementary, 58 percent of the third graders scored at above a level 3, which 4
percentage points better than the state average.

Wewahitchka, 40 percent of the third graders scored a 3 or better, considered to
be at grade level or above.

The state
department, however, touted Florida’s results as evidence of the importance of
keeping schools open through the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a news
release accompanying the results, the department wrote that despite the
decrease, “the data clearly shows that, on average, districts with higher rates
of in-person instruction weathered the ‘COVID slide’ better and saw lesser
declines between 2019 and 2021 than districts with higher rates of virtual

an emergency order issued by the department in April, accountability measures
were waived for all state exams administered to students this year. The
department said Tuesday that the exam’s results instead will “help policymakers
understand the reading achievements and deficiencies of Florida’s Grade 3

from other statewide assessments will be published no later than July 31,
according to the department.

Meet the Editor

Wendy Weitzel, The Star’s digital editor, joined the news outlet in August 2021, as a reporter covering primarily Gulf County.

Prior to then, she interned for Oklahoma-based news wire service Gaylord News and for Oklahoma City-based online newspaper NonDoc.com during her four years at the University of Oklahoma, from which she graduated in May with degrees in online journalism and political science.

While at OU, Weitzel was selected as Carnegie-Knight News21 Investigative Fellow among 30 top journalism students from around the country. She also was senior editor managing a 12-person newsroom in coordination with Oklahoma Watch, a non-profit news organization in eastern Oklahoma.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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