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Florida Students See Drops In Reading Scores, While Miami-Dade Outperforms Rest Of State

Jessica Bakeman
Miami-Dade County Public Schools superintendent Alberto Carvalho and members of the school board announced the results of the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress.

This story was last updated on Wednesday, Oct. 30 at 11:26 a.m

Miami-Dade County Public Schools students performed at the same level or better than their peers statewide on federal standardized math and English tests, according to results released Wednesday.

Across the country and throughout Florida, students performed worse on the 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) than the same tests two years ago. The exams are given every other year to a representative sample of fourth and eighth graders by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a divison of the U.S. Department of Education.

Florida public schools saw significant drops in reading performance from 2017, a shift that was reflected nationwide.

Students across the board saw decreases in reading performance, with the exception of the very strongest readers, NCES reported.

Associate commissioner Peggy Carr stressed in a statement: Wednesday's release was not good news.

“Over the past decade, there has been no progress in either mathematics or reading performance, and the lowest performing students are doing worse,” Carr said. “In fact, over the long term in reading, the lowest performing students — those readers who struggle the most — have made no progress from the first NAEP administration almost 30 years ago.”

In addition to reporting the scores on the national and state levels, NCES also tracks performance in large metropolitan areas. Miami-Dade is the only South Florida school district on that list.

Miami-Dade bucked the trend of lower reading performance in eighth grade, showing slight improvement rather than losing ground. The district achieved better average scores than the state in three of four categories. 

Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said the eighth-grade increase could be a sign that the district's intense focus on improving middle schools is starting to pay off.

"This could be a function of our infatuation, our determination, strategic deliberation over middle school redesign. We started it a bit over two years ago," Carvalho said during a news conference at the district's offices in downtown Miami Wednesday morning.

"It could be, also, the addition of electives back into middle school," he said, and "not compromising on advanced academics, so bringing more geometry, more algebra ... and biology [to middle schools]."

See the national and state-level results here:

Here's the results for cities:

UPDATED: This story was updated at 11:26 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 30 to add a comment from Miami-Dade County Public Schools superintendent Alberto Carvalho.