The Phoenix Flyer

Only 48 percent of 5th graders passed the state’s science exam; fewer than a quarter were ‘proficient’

By: - August 11, 2022 4:06 pm

Teacher with students in elementary school science class. Credit: Getty Images

Florida’s 5th graders took the 2022 statewide science exam to measure understanding of the state’s science standards, but the results were stagnant to dismal.

Only 48 percent of 5th graders passed the exam, based on a score of 3 or higher. The Florida Department of Education considers that “satisfactory—may need additional support for the next grade/course.”

The good news? The 48 percent was an increase from 47 percent in 2021, according to state data. But the bad news? Between 2012 to 2019, state science results for 5th graders ranged from 51 to 55 percent, depending on the school year. Then the COVID pandemic hit, statewide testing in 2019-20 was canceled, and there was no data for 2020.

What’s more, in 2022, only 23 percent of the 5th graders were considered proficient or higher, with scores of 4 or 5.  That means some 5th graders struggling in science are headed into middle schools, where science courses can get harder.

Overall, 211,739 5th graders took the exam in 2022, covering questions about the nature of science, earth and space science, physical science and life science.

For example, in earth and space, 5th graders should “recognize that a galaxy consists of gas, dust, and many stars, including any objects orbiting the stars.” The students should “explain that stars can be different; some are smaller, some are larger, and some appear brighter than others; all except the Sun are so far away that they look like points of light,” according to science testing items from the Florida Department of Education.

In physical science, the 5th graders should be able to “compare and contrast the basic properties of solids, liquids, and gases, such as mass, volume, color, texture, and temperature.”

In three districts, only 23, 26 and 27 percent of 5th graders earned passing scores. The top district was Nassau, in northeast Florida, where 70 percent of the 5th graders passed the state science exam.

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Danielle J. Brown
Danielle J. Brown

Danielle J. Brown is a 2018 graduate of Florida State University. She has served as an editorial intern for International Program’s annual magazine and Rowland Publishing. She was born and raised in Tallahassee and reviews community theater productions for the Tallahassee Democrat.