MANATEE -- More than half of all Manatee County 10th-grade students passed the new English language arts exam, and 64 percent passed the new algebra test, according to results released Friday by the Florida Department of Education.
Among seven like-sized districts, Manatee County School District students come in third in ELA and algebra grades. They are below state averages.
The ELA exam and algebra 1 end-of-course exam were tied to the new Florida State Standards. The new
tests are still being validated. The state only released districtwide scores and did not break down individual school scores.
Statewide, 54 percent of students passed the new English exam. In Manatee County, the rate was 51 percent. In Sarasota County, 66 percent.
Last year -- on tests tied to different standards -- 64 percent of students statewide passed the Grade 10 writing exam. In Manatee, it was 58 percent. In Sarasota, 73 percent.
Last year, 55 percent of students statewide passed the grade 10 reading exam. In Manatee, 53 percent passed. In Sarasota, it was 68 percent.
"The ELA test is completely different. There's no comparison from one year to another," said Superintendent Diana Greene. "I am very pleased with where we are for the first iteration of the new FSA ELA exam."
Statewide, 67 percent of students passed the new algebra 1 exam. In Sarasota County, it was 78 percent.
Last year, 66 percent of students statewide passed the algebra 1 end-of-course exam. In Manatee, it was 65 percent, and Sarasota was 78 percent.
"Our teachers were using older textbooks in math this year," Greene said. "I just could not be more proud."
Last year, the district focused on buying new instructional materials for the elementary level, Greene said. The district bought new textbooks this year for secondary schools and has already started training teachers with the new books.
"We'll continue that training," she said.
Earlier this month, the state released science exam results for grades five and eight, and results of the biology, U.S. history and civics end-of-course exams. Those tests had not changed. In those results, Manatee students dropped and stayed below the state average.
Overall, Greene said she's confident the district is making strides.
Among seven districts with similar enrollment -- Sarasota, Collier, Escambia, Lake, Marion, St. Lucie and Manatee -- Manatee ranked third in the ELA exam and the algebra 1 end-of-course exam. The like-sized categories set by the state are based solely on enrollment and no other demographic factors, Greene said.
"I have a very high level of confidence that we're heading in the right direction," she said.
Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @MeghinDelaney.