Florida’s Algebra 1 end-of-course exam: 7th graders rule!

Fifty-nine percent of Florida’s students passed the first high-stakes administration of the state’s Algebra 1 end-of-course (EOC) exam, the Florida Department of Education announced today.  This year’s 9th graders (and all subsequent classes) must pass the Algebra 1 EOC with a score of 3 or better (on a 1 to 5 grading scale) to graduate.

The 59% pass rate was slightly higher than the expected 55% pass rate.

But not surprisingly, the state’s 13,000 7th grade Algebra 1 students hit a home run.  Ninety-four percent of 7th graders passed the test, with 42% earning the highest grade, a 5.  Eighth graders weren’t far behind, with 86% passing (although only 22% of 8th graders earned 5’s).  Students in higher grades taking the test tended to do significantly more poorly.

The strong showing of Florida’s 7th graders demonstrates that many 12-year-olds can handle Algebra 1 well and raises the question of why more school districts don’t offer their 7th graders the opportunity to take the course.  Students who take Algebra 1 in 7th grade are on track to take the Advanced Placement Calculus BC course during the senior year of high school.  The Calc BC course is equivalent to Calculus 1 and Calculus 2 at Florida’s public colleges and universities and gives students a jump on majors in engineering and the physical sciences.

Of Florida’s 67 school districts, 22 had no 7th graders take the Algebra 1 EOC.  And there were only 11 districts in which 7th graders were 10% or more of the test-takers.  Martin County had the highest percentage of 7th grade test-takers at 17.8%, and Leon was second at 13.0%.  The other districts above the 10% bar included several of the state’s largest (Duval, Orange, Pinellas) as well as several smaller ones (Indian River, Monroe, Seminole, St. Lucie, Brevard, Okaloosa).

Statewide, 6.7% of the Algebra 1 EOC test-takers were 7th graders.

Notable among the districts that do not offer Algebra 1 to 7th graders (or do so only in special circumstances) are Wakulla, Charlotte, Escambia, Osceola, Lake, Lee, Santa Rosa and Collier Counties.

The 7th grader taking rates for the districts at or above 10% are shown below, and the rates for all of Florida’s counties are listed in this spreadsheet:

7th graders

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