Alachua County school performance drops and gap widens between black and white students



While Alachua County Public Schools officials continue to focus on masking kids and getting face time on CNN, student performance continues to decline, and the black-white performance gap continues to increase.

In August 2018, the school district announced an equity plan with the goal of narrowing the performance gap between white and black students. During the 2018-19 school year, the performance gap widened, and overall student performance fell below the state level for the first time in the five-year window of available data. Our report from September 2019 can be found here

COVID-19 gave school administrators an excuse to skip testing and avoid accountability for their misguided priorities and failed policies, but now the data from the 2020-21 school year is available, and the trend continues: overall performance decreased in both English and math, and the black-white gap continued to grow in both areas.

The Florida Department of Education Information Portal has test data since the 2014-15 school year, with 2019-2020 missing because of COVID-19. Student performance is reported as the number of students who score satisfactory (3) or better on their Florida Standards Assessment (FSA) or end-of-course (EOC) exams. The performance gap between black and white students is the difference between these percentages.

Between the 2018-29 and 2020-21 school years, Alachua County’s overall math performance dropped 6.6 points, from 54.4% to 47.8%–remember, this is this percentage of students scoring at a “satisfactory” level or better, and it was less than half of students in the last school year. The state’s math performance plummeted from 57.9% in 2018-19 to 47.1%, suggesting that school closures, quarantines, and online education were very harmful to students. 

As many people warned, the myopic COVID-19 policies had a greater impact on poorer students. Since a larger percentage of black students are poor, that led to an increase in the black-white performance gap. The gap at the state level rose from 29.1 to 33.8 points. In Alachua County, the gap grew from 44.6 to 45.9 points, with 66.9% white students scoring satisfactory or better in math, compared to 21.0% for blacks. These are down from 72.3% and 27.7%, respectively, in 2018-19.

Alachua County’s overall performance in English Language Arts (ELA) dropped 2.9 points from 56.3% to 53.4%, while state-wide performance dropped from 55.4% to 51.7%. The county’s black-white performance gap grew 1.2 points, from 45.2 to 46.4 points, with 71.9% of white students scoring satisfactory or better compared to 25.5% for blacks. Again, both groups did worse than 2018-19, when it was 74.1% for whites and 28.9% for blacks.

The School Board’s equity push was spurred by the January 2018 report, “Understanding Racial Inequity in Alachua County,” prepared by the University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research (BEBR). The report used data for the 2015-16 school year (see page 12), using “Reading” (English Language Arts) for third graders and FSA Mathematics for eighth graders. For reading, the percentage who scored 3 or better was 74.0% for whites and 27.7% for blacks, an astonishing 46.3-point gap. For math, it was 47.1% for whites and 22.3% for blacks, a 24.8-point gap. 

Using this limited view of student performance, Alachua County has narrowed the English performance gap, but the results was exactly what I warned about in 2018: “Equity is often achieved by bringing down the performance of the top students.” Third grade ELA performance for 2020-21 was worse for whites (70.1%) and slightly better for blacks (29.4%), narrowing the performance gap to 40.7 points. However, eighth grade math performance dropped to 40.6% for whites and an abysmal 10.2% for blacks, resulting in a 30.4 point gap, a 5.5 point increase from 2015-16.

The math scores only include eighth graders taking the FSA exams, not those who take the Algebra I end-of-course (EOC) exam–the top students are thus removed from the group who take the 8th-grade FSA math exam. For the Algebra I EOC, the county can brag that the black-white performance gap closed by 1.7 points since 2015-16, but consider the cost: white performance dropped from 75.1% to 62.5%, and black performance dropped from 29.4% to 18.5%.

The county is doing is a great disservice to the entire community, but especially to blacks. Less than 30% of blacks are satisfactory in English (overall and in third grade), and even fewer are satisfactory in math (21% overall, 10.2% in eighth grade, and 18.5% in Algebra). Despite the performance gaps that look favorable to white students, the system is also failing over a third of white students in math. It makes you wonder what exactly the schools are doing all day with these kids.

My conclusion from 2019 stands: “Our education system is broken. Equity is the least of our worries.”

  • It is easy to blame teachers and the system for academic failures, but “wokeness” prohibits facing up to the reality that some kids are just knuckleheads. Too much time wasted on TV. Too much time wasted on the internet and playing around with smart phones (which help engender stupid kids). And then of course we must all, in the name of political correctness, ignore the simple issue of bad breeding. Low IQ dimwit parents sire lots of low IQ dimwit kids. Asians are about the brightest people on the planet and they likely will soon own the whole planet while all our knuckle-dragging”degreed” goofballs in America can use their BA degrees (actually “BS” degrees) to land jobs as domestic servants for their Asian masters. Face up to reality people. Thoroughbred race horses are not bred from plow horses. We are too ready to blame our schools but it is axiomatic that you can’t make chicken salad out of chicken s**t.

    • Right on all. You can’t make this stuff up! All the county and ignorant city commission acts on housing, law enforcement, east side benefits and wasteful PROGRAMS have the exact opposite effects! These woke followers don’t have a clue! Fire every city commissioner and county commissioner for starters. The worst racial divide of any city in the south, yet they keep repeating and recycling the same stupid LBJ crap over and over! Why don’t they get rid of all rules and tests next so nobody fails! And, no arrests so nobody has a record! Then pass a law so all city rents are limited to $500 a month! Housing solved!

  • McNealy’s Black-on-black racism opens up more career opportunities for white kids.

  • Standards need to be kept high and tight from pre-K through 12. Emphasis on how to READ and think and being creative through STRONG programs for ALL No more “grade curves” to allow a student to graduate when those need to be in a trade education or learning a craft. Teach ethics and values. ABC’s not all this crap about race and discrimination. Do the WORK.EARN the grade.

  • All this while our educational spending is among the highest amount in the world and the teachers want more money. When learning isn’t emphasized at home the kids don’t care. Low expectations equals low outcome. These same students hold back the ones who want to learn. The lefties say it’s because of racism so they want to teach wokeness.

  • Even a rat will find a way out of the bottom of the barrel if given the opportunity and incentive. Under current leadership, while the opportunity may be there, there isn’t any incentive to reach for excellence. The SBAC chooses instead to “dumb ’em down” under the false guise of creating equity.

    Really is unfair to our children to teach them to just be “okay” rather than strive for “excellence.” Maybe the administration has been watching too many commercials lately.

    If you’re a parent, time to teach your children to not believe…

  • Personal responsibility! it’s the parents job to feed
    And educate their child….don’t breed em if you can’t
    Educate and feed em…—-it takes a village to raise a child?
    Only in communist countries.—-Maybe you should have
    To get a permit if you’re going to bring a child into this
    World….someone once told me No, we need cannon fodder.

    • A “parental passport” to conceive a child like Brandon’s (mandated Vax) Covid-19
      Passport to have a job or travel or go to a restaurant…
      You have to have both a mother & a father to conceive a child and make sure they can educate & feed them… No, can’t
      Do that because a nuclear family is racist.

  • Florida Phoenix (11/8/21): several factors have led to only three districts maintaining strict mask policies. Those school districts are Alachua, Broward and Miami-Dade.

    In fact, Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran has even thanked some districts — in Brevard, Leon and Palm Beach counties — on Twitter for backing off of their strict mask mandates and “empowering parents.”

    “Let’s keep working together to provide students a world-class education,” he tweeted Wednesday.

  • Where are our tax dollars going!? Apparently to sharp dealing realtors and to finance stupid fights with the Governor over exactly nothing.

    These charts show the money ISN’T going to the little kids who need to learn how to read and do math to get along in this world. Since the board knows the reading and math scores are being watched, and they STILL do so badly, one has to think that the instruction in other areas is even worse. And it just doesn’t wash that 70-80% of the black families in this town don’t support their kid’s math education.

    Whatever else the SBAC might be doing, it clearly isn’t getting its first, and most important, job done. They need to WAKE UP and redeploy the resources they already have into putting as many quality teachers as necessary into the poorer schools for as much instructional time as possible. If the SBAC were a business, every single person in a non-instructional slot would be pushed out into the schools at least two days a week to fix the problem.

  • The whole system needs an overhaul because it’s
    Broken. The Florida State constitution needs to remove
    The part about “free education”…parents need to have
    Some skin in the game and need to pay their fair share
    For their kids in the school system. A “user fee”. Stop
    The free lunch & free bus. No more paying for schools
    From property tax. If you take the public $, you should
    Have to payback with public service (mandatory military
    Service when hit 18 if go to public school…otherwise,
    Send your kid to private school…personal responsibility is the key. People who cannot take care of themselves
    Or their children are shifting their responsibility on others…

    • I don’t have any children. I should be exempt
      From property tax that goes to schools.

  • The big impediment to learning was that computer
    Learning from home during the quarantine and now
    The mandatory mask wearing….

    • Have they still banned volunteers from the schools? Just asking. It seems so from their COVID response page but it might be dated.

  • So the “gap” is only 0.02%? How can that possibly be statistically significant?

    How do they define Black and White? Should we assume the Mixed race kid’s scores fall in-between?

  • Planned obsolescence is a business strategy in which the obsolescence (the process of becoming obsolete, that is, unfashionable or no longer usable) of a product is planned and built into it from its conception, by the manufacturer.

  • A long and detailed report on the fact that the schools suck. OK we got that. However in all the above Len does not offer one single suggestion on how to fix the situation and make the schools better. Len hates masks, vaccines, and Democrat school boards. We got that. Now offer some solutions or STFU. Thank you.

    • Suggestion…stop ignoring the real issue. Parental involvement is the primary culprit for the disparities in test results, masking over the past year has only exacerbated the problem.

      The idea the district promotes is there lies a racist cause to the disparity because the kids on the East side of the county don’t have the same opportunities as West side schools. Teachers go from one side of the county to the other as do principals so you can take that variable from the equation. The schools have the same educational materials so that is a constant. What’s another variable that can’t be changed? The parents. I take that back…they should be a constant in their children’s educational endeavors but that rarely is true with regard to the schools in question. On the other hand, put a sporting activity on the schedule and the parental involvement dwarfs the parental involvement with educational programs.

      Suggestion…unless you’re familiar with the problem and have seen it first-hand – maybe you should be quiet.

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