Test scores down in SWFL after unusual school year

Test scores for schools were released Wednesday, and the results – after a different and difficult school year – are not pretty.

Every county in Southwest Florida is down from the year before, but leaders expect the next school year to be better. Normal, with kids in class with their teachers.

The bigger question is what will our school districts do to help kids catch up? One school board member said now is the time to think outside the box.

“The child needs the teacher, they need to look in their eyes, they need to hear their voice, they need to feel that pat on the back of congratulations from the teacher when they’re working,” said Michael Riley, community liaison with the Charlotte County Public Schools.

While more and more students returned to the classroom as the school year progressed, the achievement gap everyone feared became reality. Test scores for third graders in English and language arts are in, and Lee County is down eight points.

“I think we were kind of prepared for the fact that they were not going to be really good because of COVID, and we didn’t do as poorly as I thought,” said board member Gwyn Gittens.

Gittens’ biggest concern is that the achievement gap was too big in the first place.

“If we’re going to achieve our goal of being an eighth district or a world-class district, then we have to look at this is what’s keeping us from doing it.”

In Charlotte County, third-grade scores were down seven points, and Collier County was down just one.

Superintendent Kamela Patton, Ph.D., said getting a large majority of students back in the classroom made a huge difference.

“We’re really proud of the push to have 91% of our kids back since January,” she said.

Forty-five hundred kids in Collier County are in summer school, while in Lee County, “25,000 of our 95,000 students are attending summer school,” Gittens said.

All three school districts said they’re working on plans to help those students who may have fallen behind during the last school year.

You can review test scores here.

Reporter:Gail Levy
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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