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Putting aside the question of whether Florida’s middle school civics benchmarks and related assessment are actually an appropriate measures of civic learning, some good news here in the Sunshine State concerning the past administration of the Civics EOCA. As you probably know, Florida is currently one of the few states with a somewhat high stakes test connected to civics. This test, while selected response, is crafted using Webb’s Depths of Knowledge as a guide, and students are given multiple choice questions that range from level 1 to level 3 on the cognitive complexity scale. The most recent scoring of the assessment revealed some positive growth on the part of students in Florida, and I am hopeful that this is a sign that civic education could make an impact long term. Let’s take a look at the positives:

Civics EOC Assessment By Achievement Level

Civics EOC Assessment By Achievement Level

This is good news! While one would hope for a greater number of level fours, any growth in the number of students scoring at level 3 can only be a good thing.

Achievement Level by Demographic Background

Achievement Level by Demographic Background

These numbers, again, are a positive. I am most excited by the growth in African American scores. For the first time, half of all African American students taking the assessment scored at least a 3, a jump of 7 percentage points. On the downside, only half of all African-American students scored at least a 3. This needs to change, and we need to figure out how to do it.

Growth in Achievement Level 4, by Demographic Background

Growth in Achievement Level 4, by Demographic Background

Again, we see growth, but it is simply too low. Yes, great that more students scored higher on an equivalent test, but frustrating that so few are scoring at a high level. How do we change this?

Overall, much positive news. I encourage you to take a look at some of the other data in the report, including how your county might have done overall compared to other counties and to last year. One of the projects involving the Partnership for Civic Learning involves looking at what some of these schools and districts that exceed expectations are doing right. Can what they are doing be duplicated across the state? It is an important question to consider. For now, let’s enjoy the good news, review the data, and see how what we are doing might be impacting civic education in Florida.

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